Australia-India strategic relations: the odd couple of the Indian Ocean?

20 May 2014

Summary: India is often identified as one of Australia’s key new strategic partners in Asia. While they have many shared strategic interests, both countries still have a lot to learn about how to get along with each other. Some might even see them as the odd couple of the Indian Ocean region. This paper looks at recent developments in the areas of security, politics and economics, and prospects for the relationship under the new Indian government led by Narendra Modi.

Key points

  • The Australia-India relationship has come a long way over the last decade, but it will require significant political will on both sides to give it more substance.
  • Bilateral trade has blossomed in recent years, although two-way investment is still relatively undeveloped. A free trade agreement is under negotiation that would provide major benefits to both countries.
  • There have been important developments in the political-security relationship over the last decade. There has been a significant expansion in dialogues but concrete co-operation is still nascent and needs more substance.
  • India’s new government under Narendra Modi may create opportunities for the relationship. This could potentially include co-operating in the development of a new “web of alliances” in the Indian Ocean region
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