The economic ties between New Delhi and Canberra are being upgraded at a rapid pace and opportunities between these two like-minded nations are presenting themselves with regularity.
As the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic is seen across the globe countries are resorting to more introspection, newly formed action plans, geopolitical, geoeconomic alliances and a more inward-looking approach to secure the interests of their people. And yet, it is also the moment for nations to seize opportunities that never existed before, but have been fashioned by the moment of VUCA (Volatility, Unpredictability, Complexity and Ambiguity) in order to ensure that the preexisting formulas that held sway for decades are now being stress tested, refashioned and reenergized through new relationships.
Agility and adaptability are the order of the day. Geopolitical and bilateral ties are being reformatted to accommodate new blueprints and likeminded nations are refashioning a new global order that will be on display soon. Countries are looking inward in order to reshape their own platforms while keeping an eye out for new opportunities that present themselves through common interests.
India and Australia are a case in point. Both are bubbling, vibrant democracies which have come under the crosshairs of the destructive ambitions of China. Both nations have seen their ties with Beijing sink to their lowest ebb and faced with this cold reality they are delinking trade ties with this rising hegemon through the process of which they have identified common ground and numerous opportunities to forge links with each other.
Perhaps the only platform on which Canberra and New Delhi compete aggressively with each other has been through cricket. They are shedding their tag of being a China-dependent economy. Defense ties have been signed between Canberra and New Delhi and the relationship has been upgraded to the status of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. To thwart China's dominance and to grow their potential to do business further the trade ministers of Japan, India and Australia recently agreed to work toward achieving supply chain resilience in the Indo-Pacific region, an area which is becoming the hotbed of economic and political activity with China facing an alliance of democratic nations who seek to thwart Beijing's unfair attempts to dominate the waters.
But for the moment, it is India and Australia who are poised to become the architects of a new rising Global Order. It's a no-stress mantra which is being invoked in the corridors of power in both countries - “To take a lead in delivering a free, fair, inclusive, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment and in keeping their markets open.”
More to read:
All eyes will now be on the upcoming meeting of the Quad - a ministerial 'interface' in New Delhi - which is likely to happen soon. The group comprising a coalition of India, the US, Japan and Australia will be seeking to firm up security ties and address wider topics of a free and open Indo-Pacific trade policy.
There is no better time for Australia to do trade with India. The business environment has been refashioned and reenergized by the government of Indian prime minister of Narendra Modi and roadblocks and challenges are being removed to facilitate smoother and actions which are accountable by his cabinet of able ministers. Canberra is looking at selling education, health care and sees potential in science and technology given the growing consumer market that has ben presented by India's middle class. India is inviting FDI across all sectors and has an ambition policy of self-reliance which has been devised to reduce its imports and trade deficits between certain nations.
Indian students are queueing up in Australian universities in the search for knowledge and upskilling themselves and their growth has eclipsed that of the Chinese students. In education, growth in enrollments has seen the number of Indian student visa holders eclipse Chinese students. Acording to Bloomberg, new enrollments of international students from India expanded 32% in 2019 from a year earlier and it's the fastest growing major market for Australian services. India has also overtaken China as the largest source of net migration to Australia, and its diaspora is the third largest Down Under, just behind China and the U.K.
While China's dominance of Australia's goods exports reflects commodities demand, in the employment-intensive services sector China's importance has been challenged by a doubling of services exports to India over the past two years. It is now evident that India is beginning to diversify and Canberra must follow suit after a conscious uncoupling of its ties with Beijing. The journey begins with the first step and while it is true that trade numbers between India and Australia stood at $30 billion in 2019 (as opposed to $200 billion between Australia and China) the line in the sand has been drawn and the time for the two nations to capitalize is now.
Set against this backdrop is Australia's India Economic Strategy (IES 2035) devised to make India one of Australia's top-three export markets; to make India the third-largest destination in Asia for Australian outward investment and to bring India into the inner sanctum of Australia's strategic partnerships. The buzzwords are for Australia are resources, agribusiness, education and tourism where they can leverage their skills in the Indian sphere to ensure the beginning of a healthy partnership.