Relations between Australia and India are at a critical juncture, amid a deepening of bilateral ties and proactive efforts to embed them within a broader regional partnership in the strategically vital Indo-Pacific. Engagement between the two sides is currently at an all-time high, with defense and security, trade, cultural partnerships, technology and education being key areas of collaboration. Sustained by a mutual interest in balancing China and ensuring a stable order in the Indo-Pacific, Canberra and New Delhi appear poised to consolidate the growing expansion of their partnership.
The impetus to building a strong bilateral relationship began with a landmark visit by then-Australian Prime Minister John Howard to India in July 2000. That trip was the capstone of early initiatives to develop more robust engagement between Canberra and New Delhi, including the beginning of defense talks in May 2000 and the re-establishment of dialogue channels the following year that had been previously affected by Australia’s strong criticism of India’s nuclear tests in 1998. The following decades saw several high-profile visits between the two countries, including then-Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s visit to India in September 2014. That trip was followed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Australia two months later—the first by an Indian prime minister in 28 years. Aside from the good optics of a state visit, the two sides signed the Framework for Security Cooperation that paved the way for future engagement.
In 2020, India and Australia announced a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership that includes a framework agreement on maritime and cyber-technology cooperation and a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement to increase military interoperability through defense exercises and further cooperation in defense science and technology. In November 2022, they signed the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement, or ECTA, in an effort to strengthen trade ties. Beyond their bilateral relationship, Australia and India are involved in a range of multilateral mechanisms and regional groupings that include the Group of 20, the Indian Ocean Rim Association, the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, better known as the Quad, which also comprises the U.S. and Japan.