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2023 will be India’s year in Australia

The stage has been set for the India-Australia relationship to move into next gear

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It is that time of the year when crystal ball gazing is permitted as one looks at past trends to predict future happenings. If 2022 is anything to go by, all things Indian will feature strongly in mainstream Australian news in 2023.

As the year comes to an end, the abridged version of the Free Trade Agreement, the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) which was signed on 2 April 2022 comes into force on 29 Dec 2022, this after 10 years and 7 months of discussions and negotiations. A further milestone of signing a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) will be in the target range for 2023.

This works well for both governments.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been a natural in international politics, repairing relationships with countries like France and China in the first six months. He has met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and seems to get along well with him. Most importantly Australia’s highly effective Foreign Minister Penny Wong has established a strong professional relationship with Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. Both the senior ministers enjoy the confidence of their leaders and will be instrumental in driving the relationship forward. An early mark will be the build up to the expected visit of Indian PM Modi to Australia in 2023 as part of the fifth Quad leaders’ summit. When PM Modi visited Australia in 2014, his rock star welcome by the Indian diaspora was picked up by the mainstream media and his speech to a capacity-filled Acer Arena was well reported. With the sharp increase in diaspora number in the last eight years, expect more of a hype by the community in this visit.

Also expect this visit – which comes a year before India’s general elections in 2024 – to build on the image of PM Modi as an international statesman. In the previous two election campaigns, the BJP had pushed the strong leader persona of Narendra Modi; in 2023, India’s participation at the Quad to stand up to China will only help the narrative.

Later in the year, India will host the G20 and PM Modi will play host to arguably the most powerful nations in the world. India would like to take leadership in setting the economic agenda in a post pandemic world already suffering from spluttering economic growth, and one in which the Russia-Ukraine conflict is creating further hardships globally.

The theme for the G20 meet, “One Earth, One Family, One Future”, is all about intertwined economic destinies. Leaving aside issues such as climate change to the COP summits, and the Russia-Ukraine impasse to the UN, India will likely look at building on the economic agenda of the nations and try to divorce politics from economic growth. One expects Australian media to bring India in the headline news with increased frequency.

With the trifecta of ECTA, Quad and G20, India will feature strongly in the Australian media, and this is before taking into account the various contributions of local Indian-Australians in STEM and medicine and public service and business, and the increasing reportage around community events and issues.

Yes, it will be India in the spotlight in Australia in 2023.

READ ALSO: Why the India-Australia relationship has nowhere to go but up

Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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