Modi-Morrison Summit: India, Australia sign 9 pacts

India and Australia have decided to sign nine pacts, including one to raise their relationship to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ for wider and deeper cooperation in diverse areas ranging from trade to defence. The eight other pacts cover cooperation in key matters such as cyber technology, maritime engagement, education, science and technology and water resources management.

The mutual logistic support agreement was signed during a virtual summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Thursday. The agreement allows Indian and Australian military ships and aircraft to refuel and access maintenance facilities at each other’s bases.

Highlights:
  • Modi, Morrison conclude nine pacts including a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement
  • In virtual summit, Modi, Morrison call for speedy growth in investments
  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership amid the COVID-19 crisis.

India has a similar pact with the United States, which is seen as part of broader security cooperation to balance China’s growing economic and military weight in the region.

Indian troops are locked in a standoff with Chinese troops on their disputed border, the most serious crisis in years, on top of concerns about a huge trade imbalance in Beijing’s favour.

Australia’s trade frictions with China are also growing, and its push last month for an international review into the origins and spread of the novel coronavirus drew opposition from China.

Modi - Morrison Virtual Summit
Modi – Morrison Virtual Summit
9 Pacts signed between India and Australia
Here is a list of the documents which have either been signed or announced during the summit:
  1. Joint statement on a comprehensive strategic partnership between the Republic of India and Australia — Announced. 
  2. Joint declaration on a shared vision for Maritime cooperation in the indo-pacific — Announced. 
  3. Framework arrangement on cyber and cyber-enabled critical Technology Corporation — Signed. 
  4. More you on cooperation in the field of mining and processing of critical and strategic minerals — Signed. 
  5. An arrangement concerning mutual logistics support MLSA — Signed. 
  6. Implementing arrangement concerning cooperation in defence Science and technology to the MoU on Defence cooperation — Signed. 
  7. Understanding on cooperation in the field of Public Administration and governance reforms — Signed. 
  8. Memorandum of understanding on cooperation in vocational education and training — Signed. 
  9. Memorandum of understanding on water resources management — Signed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, who spoke at the start of a virtual bilateral summit on Thursday, also agreed that while trade and investment flows between the two nations are growing, more effort is needed in this direction.

Dealing with COVID-19

Australia is an important trade partner for India although there is a large trade imbalance due to the former’s huge coal exports to the country. India exported goods and services worth $5.17 billion and imported goods and services worth $15.75 billion in 2018-19. Australia’s cumulative investment in India is about $10.74 billion, whereas India’s total investment in Australia is $10.45 billion. Both India and Australia are keen to restart talks on a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement on the lines of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) pact that India walked out of in November 2019, mostly due to concerns about providing market access to China. The RCEP comprised 16 nations including the 10-member ASEAN, China, South Korea, New Zealand, Japan, India and Australia.

“Our trade and investments are growing. But I will not say that I am satisfied at the speed of increase. When a leader of your potential is leading a nation that is our friend, the criteria of judging the pace of progress in our relationship has to be ambitious,” Modi told Morrison.

“It doesn’t surprise me, this is how (virtually) we’d continue to meet in these circumstances. You are the one who started hologram in your campaigning many years ago, maybe next time we can have a hologram of you here.”, Australian PM Scott Morrison says. https://twitter.com/ANI/status/1268421826234871808

The Australian PM said the growth in trade and investment could be much faster. “I think the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership that we are forming today will lead to a whole new level of relationship and will continue to build the trust. Because we want commercial and trading relationships that are built on trust,” he said.

Morrison further said that the agreement signed at the virtual summit would play an important role in boosting bilateral relationship. “This is a grand portfolio of specific and very particular arrangements that give form and substance to the comprehensive and strategic partnership,” he said.

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