Australia and India: is it different this time?

International relations International cooperation International trade Australia India

My collection of reports on Australia–India relations amounts to about twenty items, beginning with New Horizons: A Study of Australian-Indian Relationships, a 1946 report by Sir Bertram Stevens, former premier of New South Wales. Its 200 pages advise that Australia “must prepare to take advantage of the new and vast markets which are opening up in India.”

That sounds familiar. Here’s Ellerston Capital’s Ashok Jacob, speaking earlier this month in Sydney at the launch of An India Economic Strategy to 2035: “Any CEO, any board, that does not take a good hard look at India will be asked in ten years’ time, did you at least look at it, did you visit the place, do you know what your competitors’ markets in India look like?” Jacob is a long-time figure in Australian big business, a member of one of India’s great business families and chair of the Australia–India Council.

The trail to 2018 is littered with weighty documents making similar points, among them India: The Next Economic Giant (2004), India: New Economy, Old Economy (2001), Australia’s Trade Relationship with India (1998), India’s Economy at the Midnight Hour: Australia’s India Strategy (1994) and Australia-India Relations: Trade and Security (1990).

So, has anything changed?

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