New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday held wide-ranging talks with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese with a focus on boosting overall bilateral engagement in areas of trade and investment, defence, and critical minerals.
The Australian prime minister arrived in Delhi on Thursday evening after concluding his engagements in Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
“Australia and India are great friends. We are partners and we are building that partnership even stronger each day,” Albanese said after he was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan this morning.
The Australian prime minister said Canberra wants to cooperate with India to build a stronger relationship in areas of culture, economic relations as well as security.
“We are competing on the cricket field to be the world’s best but together we are building a better world,” he said.
Days ahead of his visit to India, Albanese said a stronger India-Australia partnership is good for regional stability and that it also means more trade and investment.
It is his first visit to India after becoming the prime minister in May last year.
The last visit to India by an Australian prime minister was in 2017.
Albanese’s visit comes after a series of high-level engagements and an exchange of ministerial trips between the two sides in 2022 and in 2023.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar travelled to Australia on February 18 while his counterpart Penny Wong visited New Delhi from February 28 to March 3.
The India-Australia bilateral economic ties are on an upswing. The Economic Cooperation Trade Agreement (ECTA) entered into force in December 2022.
It is the first free trade agreement signed by India with any developed country in a decade.
The ECTA has resulted in an immediate reduction of duty to zero on 96 percent of Indian exports to Australia in value and zero duty on 85 percent of Australia’s exports (in value) to India.
Bilateral trade was USD 27.5 billion (one billion = 100 crore) in 2021. Australia is the 17th largest trading partner of India and India is Australia’s ninth largest trading partner, according to official data.
With ECTA, there is potential for bilateral trade to reach around USD 50 billion in five years.
India is one of the top sources of skilled immigrants to Australia. The Indian community in Australia continues to grow in size and importance.
Cooperation in education is also on an upward trajectory.