Speech by External Affairs Minister, Dr S. Jaishankar at the 2022 Australia-India Leadership Dialogue (5 September 2022)
It is a great pleasure to address the 5th Annual Australia-India Leadership Dialogue (AILD) virtually with my friend and colleague, Foreign Minister Penny Wong.
2. First of all, allow me to congratulate Ms. Lisa Singh, CEO of Australia-India Institute (AII) and Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Chief Executive Officer of CII for continuing to lead this commendable initiative. I also acknowledge the support of Mr. Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder of Atlassian, and the presence of Mr. Rakesh Bharti Mittal of Bharti Enterprises.
3. This leadership dialogue is taking place as India-Australia relations have shifted gears and moved into a higher orbit. In what now seems like history, the ambitions for our relationship were initially expressed by the India Economic Strategy Report 2035 issued by the Australian side and the Australian Economic Strategy CII issued by India . Trade of over US$20 billion and investment at the level of US$25 billion is expected to grow rapidly thanks to the economic and trade cooperation agreement reached in April 2022. Australia is a major educational destination for Indian students, who number over 100,000. The Indian community, estimated at 720,000 people, is a source of strength for both companies.
4. But it is in the area of policy and strategy that the transformation has been clearest. Much of the growing convergence has been driven by concerns about the region’s stability, prosperity and security. The global goods deficit has sought to be resolved by India and Australia working together bilaterally as well as in larger formats. This reflects their shared concerns about respect for international law and a rules-based order. The two countries may have long interacted in forums led by ASEAN, the Commonwealth, the Indian Ocean Rim Association, and more. But stronger leadership and more open exchanges have highlighted the mutual benefits of closer cooperation and coordination. Australia was an early and vigorous supporter of India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI). In fact, the big shift has been the realization that a stronger bilateral relationship now allows both nations to contribute much more effectively regionally and globally.
5. The new intensity of interactions manifested visibly from the leadership level down. It is remarkable that the first interaction between our Prime Ministers occurred literally a day after the current Australian Minister took office. It should also be noted that our comprehensive strategic partnership now covers an annual meeting of Prime Ministers, a dialogue of Foreign Ministers, a 2+2 meeting of Defense and Foreign Ministers, a Ministerial Committee on Trade, a Council education, an energy dialogue and sector working groups. Over the past few months, we have concluded agreements ranging from maritime collaboration, defense science exchanges, mutual logistical support to cooperation in critical cyber technologies, critical and strategic minerals, water resource management, vocational education and training, and public administration and governance. . These milestones highlight the interactive dynamic between the bilateral and regional aspects of our cooperation.
6. Greater political trust and enhanced defense cooperation also contributed to Australia’s participation in Exercise Malabar 2020. Greater understanding on the space applications front led Australia to support the center temporary telemetry tracking and command for India’s Gaganyaan mission. A common concern about trade reliability and economic volatility has prompted a partnership on the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative with Japan. ECTA was not just a trade agreement; it was the result of greater systemic trust that we see now. And the Tokyo Quad summit was an opportunity to confirm, if need be, that the new Albanian government was just as attached to the bilateral relationship, even to the Quad, as its predecessor. I myself have met with Foreign Secretary Penny Wong twice and look forward to doing so again in New York very soon.
7. As I understand it, the purpose of this meeting is to ensure that technology contributes to what is a growing meeting of interests and values between us. For my part, I would only like to stress that recent international developments have given even more importance to this cooperation. The unpredictability of global supply chains has created legitimate concerns about resilience and reliability. Likewise, a more digital world places greater importance on trust and data transparency. As political democracies, market economies and pluralistic societies, India and Australia share a keen interest in all these areas.
8. We all recognize that this is a world of greater creativity and, indeed, greater innovation. And in many ways, the fallout from the pandemic and the demands of governance have accelerated the pace of digitization. How to optimize emerging opportunities and challenges is a never-ending process. It is natural that the security perspective of this conference focuses on cybersecurity and AI. Their human aspects include matching skills and talents with the political and social aspirations of the times. For our two nations, a serious conversation about mobility is necessary. And I am happy to share that the first steps have been taken in this regard.
9. It is also timely that you all deliberate on more efficient service delivery using digital tools. This is something where India has really made huge strides in the past three years, building on a long-awaited digital backbone. From the COWIN platform to the implementation of financial, health and social services, it has been delivered on a scale and with an integrity that would have been previously unimaginable.
10. As with any important relationship, there is a larger context for its growth and deepening. The Indo-Pacific, in particular, will benefit from the fruits of our collaboration. The Quad, for its part, has become a key platform for ensuring progress, prosperity, stability and security. We are also committed to advancing the realization of the Indo-Pacific economic framework. And trilaterally, with Japan, we’re working to promote supply chain resilience.
11. India and Australia share a deep friendship, and this year it was very visible. During the [email protected] celebrations, over 40 buildings and landmarks across Australia, including the magnificent Sydney Opera House, were lit up in the colors of our Tiranga (national flag). Partnership, even in difficult times, is nothing new for India and Australia. We fought together on the same side during the First World War campaign at Gallipoli. We also had memorable battles against each other on the cricket pitch, only to be side by side again in the IPL.
12. There is a world out there, ladies and gentlemen, that not only beckons to our partnership, but values it for the contribution we make to the common good. Your discussions today are part of the collective efforts to broaden our collaboration and move it forward in particularly promising areas. I wish you good luck in your deliberations.