Foreign Minister's visit to India

Media release

18 November 2013

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop visited Mumbai and New Delhi on 15-18 November, strongly signaling the priority the Government places on strengthening Australia's relations with India.

"My visit follows the positive and substantive meeting between our two Prime Ministers in October and my meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Khurshid in Perth two weeks ago", Ms Bishop said.

"This early and regular contact confirms the importance we attach to making the most of Australia and India's converging interests, both economically and in strategic and security terms", she said.

India is Australia's fifth largest export market with significant opportunities for further growth in key areas such as resources and energy, education, agriculture, IT and infrastructure.

"This is a mutually beneficial partnership", Ms Bishop said. "We welcome the nearly A$10 billion of Indian investment in our resources sector. It is helping to underpin Australia's prosperity and jobs in Australia and India, with our resource and energy inputs helping fuel India's growth."

Ms Bishop and Mr Khurshid reiterated the importance of a high-quality Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), with the next round to be held in Delhi in the first half of next year and announced that the third India-Australia CEO Forum would be held in Sydney on 6 December.

They also welcomed good progress made towards finalising a bilateral Social Security Agreement. Ms Bishop briefed Mr Khurshid on Australia's priorities as host of the G20 in 2014, emphasising our focus on jobs and growth. They agreed to work closely to ensure the G20 continues to support strong and sustainable global economic growth.

Both Ministers reiterated mutual commitment to the prompt conclusion of the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, with the next round of negotiations to commence in Delhi on 26 November.

The Foreign Ministers also discussed strengthening strategic dialogue and security cooperation, particularly related to the Indo-Pacific, transition in Afghanistan and on Counter-Terrorism.

"I am pleased that planning for the first of an agreed series of regular bilateral navy exercises is well underway, with the inaugural exercise to be held in 2015."

A focus of Ms Bishop's visit was also to strengthen people-to-people links. "It is the relations between our two peoples that ultimately makes our relationship what it is", she said.

"Education is at the forefront of this and we discussed strengthening our efforts to promote educational exchanges. India will be a priority country for the Australian Government's New Colombo Plan which is designed to increase Australian students' engagement in Asia."

Ms Bishop also announced Australia would provide up to $1 million for the establishment of a Chair of the School of Ecology and Environment Studies at Nalanda University, following the appointment of the Chair in early 2014.

The two Ministers also committed to reinvigorating bilateral parliamentary exchanges. Ms Bishop said Australia was planning a parliamentary delegation visit to India in 2014 and would welcome a visit by an Indian delegation to Australia.

Ms Bishop and India's External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid also announced the second phase of the India-Australia Water Partnership, which will extend technology co-operation to Indian states.

"Our two nations are now stepping up co-operation in this area, sharing new technology which will allow us to increase productivity, effective allocation of water and overcome water scarcity."

Ms Bishop said that she had been privileged to visit Mumbai during the last test match of Sachin Tendulkar. "We share India's celebration of his extraordinary career and example, on and off the field".

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