Australia- India relations

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India opposes Australian entry in Malabar exercise; holds other exercises with Australia

After snubbing Oz on Malabar, India to send jets for air drill, June 2, 2018: The Times of India

New Delhi may have rebuffed Australia’s request that it be allowed to take part in the annual trilateral Malabar naval wargames that India holds with the US and Japan, but will be dispatching four Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets and a C-17 Globemaster-III strategic airlift aircraft to the country to participate in the multilateral “Pitch Black” air combat exercise.

This will be India’s first appearance in the Pitch Black exercise hosted by Australia once every two years, usually including the US, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand, among other countries.

The exercise, which will witness participation by over 100 aircraft, will be held at the Royal Australian Air Force bases at Tindal and Darwin from July 27 to August 17 this year. It will be IAF’s third multilateral exercise in the last three years, after the Red Flag exercise in the US in April-May 2016 and the Blue Flag wargames at Israel in November 2017.

“With a range of realistic threats that can be found in modern-day air warfare, Pitch Black is the biggest air combat exercise in the southern hemisphere. Australia had first invited the IAF for the exercise in 2016 but that did not work out. This time, it’s all systems go,” said an official.

India and Australia, with their expanding strategic ties, already hold a joint naval exercise called AUSINDEX, the first edition of which was held off Visakhapatnam in 2015 and the second off Fremantle in 2017.

As earlier reported by TOI, India has for now opposed the inclusion of Australia in the trilateral Malabar exercise. Warships, submarines and aircraft from India, the US and Japan are all set to kick off another edition of the top-notch Malabar exercise off Guam in the Western Pacific from June 6 to 15. China, incidentally, had lodged a strong protest against the Malabar exercise in the Bay of Bengal in 2007 when it had been expanded to include Australia and Singapore as well.

1st-ever India economic strategy released

Indrani Bagchi, Australia releases 1st-ever India economic strategy, July 13, 2018: The Times of India

Focuses On 10 Sectors & 10 States

Australia released an unprecedented India economic strategy on Thursday, which aims to put substance into a growing strategic relationship between the two countries.

The lead author of the strategy, Peter Varghese, former foreign secretary and envoy to India had been tasked with this project by the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The economic strategy paper comes soon after the foreign policy white paper by the Australian government, which made a big space for relations with India, pushing India to among Australia’s top strategic partnerships. The strategy prioritises economic and trade opportunities in India across 10 states, covering 10 sectors, and according to the report, “designed to plug Australian business into India’s growth story to 2035, matching Australian strengths with Indian priorities.” The strategy charts out the big picture in the Indian economic and political landscape in the coming decade.

Indian diaspora in Australia are expected to play a big role in building these economic linkages, says the report, highlighting the importance of the 7,00,000-strong Indian-origin population there. At 3% of the Australian population, Indians are the fastest growing diaspora. “The Strategy recommends that Australia strive by 2035 to lift India into its top three export markets and make India the third largest destination in Asia for outward Australian investment. This would see Australian exports to India treble to around $45 billion, and investment to India rise 10 times to over the $100 billion mark.”

Australia’s trade minister, Steven Ciobo was quoted as saying, “India’s scale alone encourages ambition, but it is the complementarities between our two economies that will determine our success.”

In his report, Varghese says India has always been described as “too hard” by Australian business. That, he says, must change.

He adds that the Australian government needs to place a sharper focus on India. They will also require an approach to the investment relationship with India that markedly differs from the trajectory of Australian investment in most other Asian markets.” This is largely because, as the report observes, India marches to its own tune, which makes it difficult to replicate approaches. The report identifies 10 sectors in the Indian market where Australia has competitive advantages.

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