A Convergence of Interests

Australia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith speaks at Asia Society India Centre. (Asia Society India Centre)

MUMBAI, October 15, 2009 - Moving into the 21st century, India and Australia share many interests: the expansion of trade and investment, insuring regional security, and tackling climate change. It is in the interest of both nations to foster continuing growth in bilateral relations and to advance international and regional cooperation.

In an evening presentation co-organized by Asia Society India Centre and United Phosphorus Limited, Stephen Smith, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia, discussed the great potential for growth in India and Australia's bilateral relations.

This was Smith's second visit to India as foreign minister. He claimed to be struck by the natural convergance of interests, and he said that he is committed to expanding and deepening Australia's relationship with India. Australia recognizes that global economic, political, and strategic influence are shifting to the Asia Pacific region. India will continue to be a major part of this transformation, and will help to shape global structure which will determine the future of world affairs. For many decades, Australia has underestimated India's importance to the region and to the world.

Since 2008, there have been nine visits to India from Australian Ministers. In the same period, ten Indian ministers have made visits to Australia. As founding members of the G20, Australia and India have demonstrated a mutual comittment to reshaping International organizations to reflect the realities of the modern world, rather than those of the ninteen forties and fifties.

Australia and India have also built a strong relationship based on trade in natural materials, such as minerals and petroleum. There are difficulties in the trade relationship between the two nations, most notably a disagreement on nucleur proliferation. However, as Smith noted, the strength of India and Australia's relationship will be based in mutual respect for democratic values, international consensus, and perhaps, cricket.

Reported by Madeline Gressel, Asia Society India Centre