[Answered] What is the strategic and economic significance of India-Australia relations? Also, highlight the hurdles to strengthening relations.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain how strategic and economic significance of India-Australia relations. Also write some hurdles to strengthening relations.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

India-Australia, both nations have much in common, underpinned by shared values of pluralistic, Westminster-style democracies, Commonwealth traditions, expanding economic engagement and increasing high level interaction. Both the countries are part of QUAD, G20, WTO, ISA etc. regional and multilateral initiatives.

Strategic significance:

  • Indo-Pacific Stability: Both nations aspire to a free, open, inclusive, and prosperous Indo-Pacific. The establishment of QUAD grouping and active participation by both is necessary to counter China’s actions in the region.
  • Gateway to Pacific Countries: like Kiribati, Solomon Islands etc. as Australia enjoys a high degree of influence over them. 
  • Upholding International Law: Both nations believe in sovereign equality of nations and progression based on mutual respect and understanding.
  • Geo-Strategic Considerations: Considering Australia’s proximity with the Indian Ocean, active engagement is desired for maintaining India’s strong position in the Indian Ocean region. Further, Australia’s support is desired for getting membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and bringing reforms to UNSC.

Economic significance:

  • Australia’s long-term and secure LNG supply can help diversify India’s current highly concentrated import supplies from the Middle East.
  • India-Australia Economic Cooperation Trade Agreement (ECTA) is expected to increase trade between the two sides to $45-50 billion over five years, from the current estimate of $27 billion, and create over 10 lakh additional job opportunities.
  • The Australia government has adopted the India Economic Strategy to 2035. It aims to set up a Consulate-General in Bengaluru in 2023, a joint Australia-India Centre of Excellence for Critical and Emerging Technology Policy in Bengaluru.

Hurdles to strengthening relations:

  • Coal mine controversy: over the Adani coal mine project in Australia, with some activists protesting against it.
  • Visa issues: There have been concerns over visa restrictions for Indian students and professionals seeking to work in Australia.
  • Russia-Ukraine crisis: Australia has criticized the Russian invasion of Ukraine and sided with the U.S. and western countries. However, India has refrained from criticizing Russia over the issue. This can create differences in bilateral discourse and the functioning of QUAD.
  • Lack of Uranium Supply: The progress on uranium supply has been very low, despite efforts from both sides.

Both countries must work together with resolve to shape our economic and strategic environment aimed to ensure collective security and prosperity.

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