April 10, 2017
The Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, paid a state visit to India from 9 to 12 April 2017 at the invitation of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister Turnbull called on President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Mohamad Hamid Ansari. External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj called on the visiting Prime Minister. Prime Minister Turnbull will also travel to Mumbai for engagements with Indian business leaders and a meeting with the Governor of Maharashtra.
Partners in the Indo-Pacific
The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific, based on mutual respect and cooperation. Australia and India share a commitment to democratic values, rule of law, international peace and security, and shared prosperity. The strategic and economic interests of both countries are converging which opens up opportunities for working together in a rapidly changing region.
The Prime Ministers agreed to draw on the strengths of each country to create jobs and investment and raise living standards. Prime Minister Turnbull and Prime Minister Modi agreed that Australia’s resources and experience could support India’s ambitious economic reform path and that India’s strong growth offered opportunities for Australian investment looking for long term stable returns.
The Prime Ministers underscored the vital role of people-to-people links and especially of the vibrant Indian-origin community in Australia, which makes a strong contribution to Australian society and to the growing bilateral relations. Australia is a growing destination of choice for Indian students, and the New Colombo Plan is building the knowledge of hundreds of young Australians of India.
The Prime Ministers welcomed progress in the flourishing knowledge partnership between Australia and India, building on the strong links in higher education, skills development and science, technology and innovation.
Recognising that an economically prosperous Indo-Pacific region is underpinned by stability and security, the two leaders underscored the importance of respecting the maritime legal order based on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Both leaders recognised that India and Australia share common interests in ensuring maritime security and the safety of sea lines of communication. Both leaders recognised the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, as well as resolving maritime disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS.
Strategic - working together
The Prime Ministers committed to deepening the bilateral defence and security partnership. They welcomed the significant progress achieved through the bilateral Framework for Security Cooperation agreed in 2014. The two countries have achieved a broad-based defence and security partnership, which continues to expand.
The Prime Ministers agreed that the bilateral maritime exercise first held in the Bay of Bengal in 2015 (AUSINDEX) will be repeated off Western Australia in the first half of 2018.
As fellow Indian Ocean nations, the two Prime Ministers also underscored Australia and India’s joint commitment to enhancing regional cooperation in promoting maritime safety and security. The leaders welcomed the important role of the bilateral White Shipping Agreement.
Both countries remain strongly committed to the breadth of their defence ties, including through ongoing annual staff talks for Army, Navy and Air Forces. The two Prime Ministers recalled the Special Forces Bilateral Exercise conducted in October 2016 and looked forward to the next iteration of the Exercise later this year. They also welcomed a decision for the first bilateral Army-to-Army exercise to take place in 2018. They looked forward to the inaugural secretaries’ defence and foreign affairs dialogue in the "2+2" format as a new mechanism to build on the deep strategic partnership. As the Defence relations expand, enhanced defence representation is envisaged on both sides over the coming years.
Recognizing that terrorism constitutes one of the most serious threats to peace and stability, the two Prime Ministers reiterated their strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stressed that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever. They asserted that the fight against terrorists, terror organisations and networks should also identify, hold accountable and take strong measures against all those who encourage, support and finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups, and falsely extol their virtues. They emphasised the need for urgent measures to counter and prevent the spread of terrorism and violent extremism and radicalization and expressed their determination to take concrete measures to step up cooperation and coordination among the law enforcement, intelligence and security organisations.
Noting that both countries have been victims of terrorism, the two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime. This overarching security understanding will allow links between Australian and Indian law enforcement, border and intelligence agencies to grow – ultimately improving both countries’ ability to address global and regional security threats.
They also welcomed the Indian Ocean Rim Association’s (IORA) Declaration on Countering and Preventing Terrorism and Violent Extremism, adopted at the IORA Leaders’ Summit. India and Australia already cooperate closely on counter-terrorism through the bilateral Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism.
The two Prime Ministers expressed their support for peace, stability, prosperity, security and integrity of Afghanistan. They emphasized the need for an early peace and reconciliation through Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process; and called for ending external support for terrorism.
Taking opportunities in our region and beyond
Australia and India share a commitment to strengthening the international rules-based system. The two Prime Ministers agreed to strengthen cooperation across regional and multilateral institutions and coordinate more closely on strengthening the regional architecture.
The two Prime Ministers welcomed continued and deepened trilateral cooperation and dialogue among Australia, India and Japan. They agreed to invest in trilateral consultations with third countries to enhance regional and global peace and security.
The Prime Ministers committed to working together to strengthen the East Asia Summit (EAS) - the premier regional forum for leader-led strategic dialogue and addressing strategic, political and economic issues. They reaffirmed that building cooperative maritime partnerships should be a priority area for EAS engagement. Agreeing to share experiences and build partnerships for protection of marine resources, prevent environmental degradation, and tap the potential of the blue economy, the two Prime Ministers took note of the EAS Conference on Maritime Security and Cooperation organised by India in Goa and the EAS Seminar on Maritime Security Cooperation organised by Australia in Sydney in November 2016 which contributed towards realisations of these objectives.
The two Prime Ministers underlined the need to address the challenges of irregular migration, people smuggling and human trafficking. Both countries are committed to preventing the abuse and exploitation of migrants and refugees at the hands of smugglers and traffickers. They recalled that Australia and India had recently signed the EAS Declaration on Strengthening Responses to Migrants and Trafficking in Persons. They committed to deepen efforts to deter and disrupt people smuggling and human trafficking, including to ensure the return of persons, subject to verification by Indian and Australian authorities. They resolved to facilitate investigation and prosecution of offenders and ensure humanitarian treatment of trafficked persons during the pendency of procedures. They agreed to develop guidelines to enhance cooperation, consistent with both countries’ sovereignty, international law and respective domestic laws.
The two Prime Ministers welcomed both countries’ increased engagement with ASEAN, including recent milestones and achievements in their respective relationships, forthcoming Leaders’ Summits in both countries with ASEAN, and noted the growing strategic importance of South-East Asia. They recognised ongoing cooperation in other regional bodies such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+), and the Asia Europe Meeting. Prime Minister Turnbull reiterated Australia’s support for India’s membership of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC).
The two Prime Ministers highlighted their shared desire to ensure that Indian Ocean architecture keeps pace with regional issues and addresses emerging threats and challenges in the region. They reaffirmed their strong commitment to IORA and noted with appreciation that Australia and India had co-sponsored the IORA Declaration on Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment in October 2016.
The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed the importance of reform of the UN system, including the Security Council, to better reflect contemporary realities. Prime Minister Modi welcomed Australia’s continuing support for India as a permanent member in a reformed United Nations Security Council.
The two Prime Ministers reiterated their support for continued bilateral nuclear cooperation. Prime Minister Turnbull noted Australia’s strong support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Australia welcomed India’s joining of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) which would strengthen global non-proliferation objectives. Australia also expressed its support for India’s membership of the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement.
The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the G20 as the premier forum for international economic cooperation. They discussed the maintenance of efforts towards trade liberalisation and reform and the need to implement G20 anti-protectionist measures.
The two Prime Ministers reasserted their commitment to meeting the challenges of climate change and implementing the Paris Climate Change Agreement. They were pleased to witness the signing of the MOU on Environment, Climate and Wildlife to strengthen collaboration on domestic action on climate change and improve environmental data collection.
Recognising India’s strong economic trajectory, Prime Minister Turnbull informed Prime Minster Modi he would commission an India Economic Strategy to define a pathway for the Australian business community to collaborate with India on its reform agenda. Prime Minister Modi welcomed the announcement and acknowledged Australia as an important partner to support India in its growth path.
The two Prime Ministers agreed that shared prosperity and growth prospects are best served by an open, global trading system and a rules-based international order. India and Australia are keen to secure a timely conclusion of a high quality Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). RCEP can provide a boost to regional economic confidence in a time of global uncertainty – but to do so it needs to deliver commercially meaningful outcomes for business. The Prime Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the conclusion of a commercially meaningful Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), which addresses the priorities of both sides.
The two Prime Ministers looked forward to the next Australia Business Week in India, planned for the second half of 2017. They recognised the importance of the Australia-India CEO Forum to explore practical measures to support further business engagement.
Energy, resources and environment
The two Prime Ministers agreed that energy and resources will continue to remain an important aspect of the bilateral relationship. Opportunities for collaboration will continue to expand as India’s energy mix evolves, including through the Australia India Energy Dialogue. Prime Minister Turnbull underlined Australia’s position as a reliable and innovative partner in meeting India’s energy security needs. The two Prime Ministers agreed to build on collaboration on a wide range of energy resources. Prime Minister Turnbull congratulated Prime Minister Modi on his leadership in advancing solar energy globally through the establishment of the International Solar Alliance. Prime Minister Turnbull announced that Australia intends to join the alliance.
Prime Minister Modi welcomed the passage of the Civil Nuclear Transfers to India Act through the Australian Parliament and both Prime Ministers anticipated commercial exports of Australian uranium could begin soon, opening up a new avenue for Australia to support Indian electricity generation.
Prime Minister Turnbull briefed Prime Minister Modi on the Australia-India mining partnership at the Indian Institute of Technology-Indian School of Mines (IIT-ISM), Dhanbad. Partnership activities with Australian institutions include research and development collaboration, training and technology transfer.
Education and skills
Noting the centrality of education to the bilateral relationship, the Prime Ministers welcomed the growing numbers of students in each other’s countries. Australia is the second most popular destination for Indians studying overseas. An increasing number of Australians are coming to India to study, including under the New Colombo Plan, through which more than 1790 undergraduates have sought the opportunity to study and intern in India since 2015.
The Prime Ministers welcomed the growing opportunities to partner in the skills sector. Prime Minister Turnbull emphasised the role Australia’s industry-led vocational education and training system, qualifications and training providers could play in India’s program to train 400 million people by 2022.
Innovation and science
The Prime Ministers celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Australia India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF). Since its establishment, the two governments have committed over $100 million (Rs 500 crore) to the AISRF and the program has supported some 300 collaborative activities including joint projects, workshops and fellowships. Its projects have delivered practical outcomes to improve agricultural productivity, develop vaccines for infectious diseases and advance work on quantum computing. The Prime Ministers were pleased to note that a further seven project teams of Indian and Australian researchers will be supported over the next three years following the successful conclusion of the most recent AISRF funding round.
Recognising the need for innovation in reaching shared aspirations in productivity and efficiency, the two Prime Ministers agreed to continue fostering collaboration between entrepreneurs developing innovative products for commercial application. They also noted both Australia and India were pursuing Smart Cities agendas and had expertise and experience to share.
The two Prime Ministers welcomed the deepening bilateral collaboration to address water management challenges, including sustainable water use. With India launching large-scale infrastructure projects in water, strong existing bilateral cooperation has laid the foundation for building commercial partnerships.
The two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of the two Implementing Arrangements between Indian Space Research Organization and Geoscience Australia on cooperation in space technology.
Sports and health cooperation
The two Prime Ministers agreed to continue to develop opportunities through connecting Australia’s global reputation for sports excellence and expertise with India’s ambition to improve its sports administration and infrastructure. The two Prime Ministers were pleased that Australian universities were partnering with the Indian Government to establish an Indian National Sports University. The Prime Ministers welcomed the renewal of the Australia-India MOU on Sports Cooperation, expanding cooperation to include sport sciences, sports governance and integrity, athlete and coach training, and grassroots participation. Prime Minister Turnbull was also pleased to invite elite Indian sports teams to train in Australia ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast.
The two Prime Ministers were pleased to build on longstanding collaboration in the health sector through an MOU and committed to continue cooperation in this field.
Building on our cultural and people-to-people links
Prime Minister Turnbull noted the significant contribution of the Indian diaspora in Australia, both in economic and cultural terms. With increasing two-way tourist numbers, both Prime Ministers noted that people-to-people links are vital to promoting mutual understanding and respect between the two countries. Prime Minister Turnbull congratulated Prime Minister Modi on Confluence, the Festival of India in Australia, which toured Australian cities in 2016 to great acclaim.
The two Prime Ministers highlighted the importance of bilateral parliamentary exchanges, and looked forward to greater official parliamentary cooperation in 2017.
The following bilateral memoranda of understanding were exchanged in the presence of the two Prime Ministers:
i. MoU on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime
ii. MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Health and Medicine
iii. MoU on Cooperation in Sports
iv. MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Environment, Climate and Wildlife
v. MoU for Promotion and Development of Cooperation in Civil Aviation Security
vi. Implementing Arrangements on Cooperation in Space Technology
Prime Minister Turnbull renewed his invitation to Prime Minister Modi to visit Australia at a mutually convenient time. Both sides agreed that the visit of Prime Minister Turnbull to India led to strengthening of the cooperative relations between the two countries, and will provide further impetus for the future development of the strategic partnership.