Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott arrived in India on Thursday on a two-day visit that is expected to see inking of much-awaited nuclear cooperation agreement among other things. Abbott is the first head of State arriving on a bilateral visit to establish contact with the newly appointed Modi Government. The visit is expected to further strengthen the strategic partnership, promote trade and investment between the two countries.
What's on agenda?
- The Abbott-Modi meeting is likely to seal the deal on negotiations for exporting uranium to India.
- The negotiations between the two sides have been on since 2012 after Labor party reversed its decision to ban the uranium sale to India as it has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
- The meeting will take further steps to boost defence and security co-operation.
- The two sides are expected to talk on Security Cooperation aimed at streamlining their joint efforts to maintain peace, stability and prosperity through closer cooperation on security challenges in the Asia-Pacific region.
- The two sides will discuss the free-trade agreement.
- If sealed, it would broaden the base of merchandise trade and encourage two-way trade by lowering tariff barriers, bringing regulatory transparency, reducing border restrictions on trade in goods and services.
Why Abott's visit important for India?
- Inking uranium deal is very important for the energy-starved India which is looking to nuclear power to supplement its existing options to fuel economic growth.
- India has been importing uranium from Russia, Kazakhstan and Canada. Adding Australia to the uranium suppliers list would help Modi Government go full throttle on nuclear power for civil utilities.
- The pact with Australia held a special significance as it would boost India's energy sector which is struggling to produce enough power to meet the rising demands.
- At present, India is heavily dependent on coal for generating power, has 20-odd small nuclear plants with plans for more.
- Over 36,000 Indian students study in Australia, mostly in vocational institutes. There have been incidents of racial attacks against them, with Australian PM in India, Modi Government could ensure better security arrangements for them.
What will Australia get?
- Australia holds about a third of the world's recoverable uranium resources, and exports nearly 7,000 tonnes a year. India could be a big market for Australia to tap.
- India is Australia's fifth largest export market, with total exports of 11.4 billion dollars, and there is potential for further cooperation in resources, science, technology and education.
- India is also a source of investment in Australia - which has reached $11 billion. Indian companies such as Tata Consultancy, Infosys and Adani's mining venture have made significant investments in the Australian economy.
- Australian economy depends on China for almost 28.2 per cent trade amounting to almost $ 142 billion a year. The closer ties between the two countries will reduce Australia's dependence on China.