India Declared ‘Top-Tier Security Partner’ of Australia

India Declared ‘Top-Tier Security Partner’ of Australia
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are seen on a lap of honour during day one of the Fourth Test match in the series between India and Australia at Sardar Patel Stadium on March 9, 2023 in Ahmedabad, India. (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Henry Jom

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has praised his country’s defence relationship with India during a visit to Mumbai, declaring the Asian nation a “top-tier” defence partner.

The PM’s comment comes as the two nations aim to deepen their ties in the Indo-Pacific as a counterbalance to an aggressive Beijing.

“For Australia, India is a top-tier security partner. The Indian Ocean is central to both countries’ security and prosperity,” Albanese said on March 9 while onboard the INS Vikrant.

Albanese was the first foreign leader to inspect the INS Vikrant, the Indian Navy’s first locally made aircraft carrier. The Aussie PM is currently in India for a four-day visit.

The relationship between Australia and India has grown since 2020, when Australia was invited to join the annual naval Malabar exercises that India conducts with the United States and Japan.

“And there has never been a point in both of our countries’ histories where we’ve had such a strong strategic alignment,” Albanese said.

“We both depend on free and open access to sea lanes in the Indo-Pacific for our trade and economic well-being.”

Albanese said that the defence and security partnership between the two nations had “never been busier or more productive,” adding that more exercises, operations, and dialogue were performed in 2022 than in previous years.

For instance, in December 2022, both countries held joint military drills in India in an effort to boost defence ties.

Australia to Host Joint Military Drill

Albanese also confirmed that Australia would host this year’s Indian joint military drill, Exercise Malabar, off the coast of Western Australia.

“I am pleased to announce formally ... that later this year, Australia will host Exercise Malabar for the first time, and India will—also for the first time—participate in Australia’s Talisman Sabre exercise.

“It will be a great privilege to welcome India’s Navy to Australia in August, and I thank them again for hosting me here today.”

Shadow Trade and Tourism Minister Kevin Hogan told Sky News that strengthening trade relationships and security ties with India was “very important” for Australia’s national security.
Hogan added that Australia has “a lot of work” to do to improve its trading relationship with India.

US–India Relationship Integral to Australia–India Relationship

India’s growing diplomatic relationship with the United States has been integral to the reshaping of the Australia–India relationship, according to Manoj Joshi, a Distinguished Fellow at New Delhi’s Observer Research Foundation.

This is in contrast to the relationship a few years back when India rejected the Australian Navy’s role in the Exercise Malabar military drill, which Australia was allowed to attend only as an observer.

“Now, both India and Australia are aligned with the United States in the Indo-Pacific region. That is really the cement that is binding the ties,” Joshi said, reported the Voice Of America.

“The U.S. is the linchpin driving the Indo-Pacific strategy.”

Australia, India, the United States, and Japan are part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad), which seeks to counter Beijing’s efforts to dominate the Indo-Pacific.

However, during a Quad geopolitical summit on March 3, diplomats of Japan, Australia, India, and the United States said Beijing had no reason to fear the Quad—as long as the communist regime “abides by” international rules.

“We don’t try to exclude anybody. This is open architecture. So one thing we would like to say is just abide by the law of international ruling institutions. And as long as China abides by ... the international institutions, standards, and rules, then this is not a conflicting issue between China and the Quad,” Japan’s Foreign Minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, said at the summit.

Anthony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, added that the Quad was a force for “good positive affirmative action” and was focused on “concrete, practical needs” for the region.

joint statement issued by the Quad reads, “We strongly oppose any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo or increase tensions in the area.”
“We express serious concern at the militarisation of disputed features, the dangerous use of coastguard vessels and maritime militia, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities.”

Australia–India Free-Trade Agreement

In 2022, Australia and India signed a Free Trade Agreement known as the Economic Cooperation Trade Agreement (ECTA), under which tariffs were removed from more than 85 percent of Australian exports and from 96 percent of Indian imports.

Australia sought to diversify trading markets after a trade dispute with Beijing occurred following calls for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 by then-PM Scott Morrison.

Bilateral trade accounted for $US27.5 billion in 2021. Under ECTA, there is potential for bilateral trade to reach $US50 billion in five years.

Trade, investment, defence, education, and supply chains of critical minerals are important aspects of the relationship between the two countries, former Indian high commissioner to Australia Navdeep Suri said.

The visit by Albanese comes days before a visit by Japanese PM Fumio Kishida, another member of the Quad.

Henry Jom is a reporter for The Epoch Times, Australia, covering a range of topics, including medicolegal, health, political, and business-related issues. He has a background in the rehabilitation sciences and is currently completing a postgraduate degree in law. Henry can be contacted at [email protected]
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