Australia and India should become more ambitious in strengthening strategic ties to complement their strong economic, education and people-to-people links. This was one of the key priorities identified by participants in the 2014 Australia-India Roundtable held in Sydney and Melbourne on 3-6 February 2014.
‘Many participants identified a need for closer security links, including through advanced naval exercises, shared Indo-Pacific maritime surveillance and potential cooperation in defence technology’, said Rory Medcalf of the Lowy Institute, the Australian Co-Chair of the Dialogue.
Among other key priorities identified was the need to federalise the bilateral relationship by encouraging dynamic states and cities in both countries to connect with each other, to renew the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund and to improve business and regulatory environments to enable cross-investments by the private sectors in the two countries.
Involving more than 60 prominent figures from diplomacy, think tanks, higher education, politics, business and media, the closed-door discussions involved a candid exchange of insights to produce a range of creative policy ideas for political leaders and officials to consider and pursue. The Roundtable was convened by the Lowy Institute for International Policy in partnership with the Observer Research Foundation and Australia India Institute.
Participants concluded that relations between India and Australia have reached a new maturity, based on deepening connections between their societies, economies, education sectors and policy establishments. This positions these two democracies well to work together to advance their interests in a shared Indo-Pacific region.
Issues discussed included a stocktake of Australia-India relations, an overview of strategic challenges in the Indo-Pacific region and globally, a global economic overview looking at potential implications for Australia-India economic relations, prospects for cooperation in multilateral forums such as the G20, prospects for cooperation in science and technology, prospects for partnership in education and knowledge, developing stronger business links, including a better understanding of the commercial opportunities on offer in the two countries, management of the strategic challenges arising from the Afghanistan transition, multilateral cooperation in the Indian Ocean, and opportunities and challenges in people-to-people relations and mutual perceptions.