Press Releases

The 2012 Australia-India Roundtable

4 December 2012

The 2012 Australia-India Roundtable, the leading informal dialogue between the two countries, will convene in New Delhi on Tuesday 4 December with an opening address by the Australian Minister for Resources and Energy, Mr Martin Ferguson MP.

The dialogue is aimed at sharing insights and new policy ideas among experts, officials, parliamentarians, business figures and journalists, to help deepen the relationship between the two countries.

“India and Australia, two democracies with common strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region, have substantially improved their relationship in recent years,” said the dialogue’s Australian chair, Lowy Institute program director Rory Medcalf.

"So instead of having to focus on problems over uranium or student welfare, this dialogue will be about identifying creative steps to make Australia and India indispensable partners in the Indo-Pacific era."

The relationship is advancing well, with the October 2012 visit by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard marking progress on key fronts. Still, the relationship carries great potential that is yet to be fully realised for the benefit of both societies and economies.

Differences over civilian nuclear energy are gradually being cleared following the historic change in Australian Labor Party policy in December 2011, and the future holds massive opportunities in energy security, including through trade in natural gas and coal.

The trade and investment relationship has grown rapidly in recent years, with India now Australia’s fourth-largest export destination and a major source of investment into Australia.

At a societal level, there is growing goodwill and much scope for further engagement, with Indians comprising one of the largest and fastest-growing communities in Australia’s multicultural society. Both countries are moving to a mature and sophisticated education and people-people relationship following an earlier phase of difficulties over student welfare in 2009-2010.

The changing global power dynamics and the increasing attention given to Indo-Pacific Asia merit a more comprehensive and intensive collaboration between India and Australia.  This could involve India and Australia enhancing their defence, maritime and security ties under their formal strategic partnership concluded in 2009.

In a rapidly changing economic and strategic landscape, these two democracies have great potential to help each other advance their national interests in ways that contribute to the stability of the region and beyond, including in multilateral bodies like the East Asia Summit and the United Nations.

The 4th Australia-India Roundtable to be held in New Delhi from 4-5 December 2012 will involve candid exchanges of views covering six themes: energy security and cooperation; strategic assessments of the Indo-Pacific region; economic relations; the role of cities and states in creating external linkages; maritime security; and new frameworks of governance and diplomacy.

The Australian partner organisations for the 2012 Australia-India Roundtable are the Australia-India Institute, University of Melbourne and the Lowy Institute for International Policy, with support from the Australia-India Council, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Indian think tank the Observer Research Foundation is the Indian counterpart, with support from the Public Diplomacy Division of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

For more information, contact Rory Medcalf at rmedcalf@lowyinstitute.org or on + 61 417 799278

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