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Australia-India Roundtable 2012
01 December 2012

India and Australia, two democracies with common strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region have in the past decade substantially increased their engagement across a broad spectrum of issues.

The relationship is advancing well, with the October 2012 visit by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard marking progress on some key fronts. Still, the relationship continues to carry huge potential that needs to be realized for the benefit of the two peoples and economies.

In recent times, major steps have been taken to increase both the scope and depth of engagement. Differences in civilian nuclear energy are gradually being cleared following the historic change in Australian Labor Party policy in December 2011, and the future holds massive opportunities in enhancing energy security including through greater emphasis on trade in natural gas and coal.

The trade and investment relationship has grown rapidly in recent years, with India now Australia's fourth-largest export destination and a major source of investment into Australia. At a societial level, there is growing goodwill and much scope for further engagement, with Indians comprising one of the largest and fastest-growing communities in Australia's multicultural society. Both countries are moving to a mature and sophisticated education and people-people relationship following an earlier phase of difficulties over student welfare in 2009-2010.

The changing global power dynamics and the increasing attention given to Indo-Pacific Asia merit a comprehensive and intensive collaboration between India and Australia. This could involve India and Australia enhancing their defence, maritime and security ties under their formal strategic partnership concluded in 2009. It could also necessitate more creative security arrangements with each other and with other stakeholders in the region.

In a rapidly changing economic and strategic landscape, these two democracies have great potential to help each other advance their national interests in ways that contribute to the stability of the region and beyond, including in multilateral bodies like the East Asia Summit and the United Nations.

Major emphasis needs to be given to creating a conducive environment for trade facilitation and investments in both the countries as well as forging knowledge partnership in services, education and science. While working towards bilateral ties, there is much that India and Australia as functioning democracies with dynamic economies can do to advance regional and global cooperation.

In this context of a promising and accelerating bilateral relationship, there is strong reason to strengthen dialogue through the 2012 Australia-India Roundtable. This is the fourth round of a track 1.5 dialogue that brings, under one roof, policymakers from governments in both the countries, experts and analysts from think tanks, universities and the media, business representatives and political figures. The purpose and vision of this initiative and platform is to identify new policy ideas, find fresh areas of convergence, frankly share views on differing perspectives and inform through this process the formal conversations between the leadership of the two countries.

The 4th Australia-India Roundtable to be held in New Delhi from 4-5th December, 2012, like its predecessors, will see representatives from diverse backgrounds brainstorming over six technical sessions, namely-energy security and cooperation, strategic assessment of the Indo-Pacific, economic overview, role of cities and states in creating external linkages, maritime security and new frameworks of governance and diplomacy.

The Australian partner organisations for the 2012 Australia-India Roundtable are the Australia-India Institute, University of Melbourne and the Lowy Institute for International Policy, with support from the Australia-India Council, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Observer Research Foundation, is the Indian counterpart, with support from the Public Diplomacy Division of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs,

Report of Australia-India Roundtable 2011