Indo-Pacific is emerging as a crucial geopolitical hotspot due to its economic and strategic significance in today’s international politics. The Indo-Pacific region is a growing priority for India and Australia, as emphasised in their respective national strategies, due to the growing economic and geopolitical relevance of the region. Economically, the Indo-Pacific is significant for trade connectivity, the blue economy, market segmentation between the two countries, and strategically, the rising role of middle powers, minilateral participation with small islands, and maritime security of the region.
The dynamic changes in the Indo-Pacific region, such as Chinese strategic posture in the region, debt trap politics, disruptive trade routes, and human and climate security concerns in the region, demand active India-Australia cooperation in the region. The island states in the Indo-Pacific region have faced increasing security threats from multiple fronts in recent years, including large scale military buildup, human trafficking, illegal migration, maritime border conflicts, and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. As Australia’s immediate region of strategic interest, Australia has a strong interest in stable and prosperous island countries with well-governed maritime spaces, with the partnership of India.
KEY INSIGHTS FROM THE DISCUSSION
Shared Interests: India and Australia share interests in ensuring stability, security, and sustainability in the Indo-Pacific region.
Stability and Security: Both nations aim to maintain territorial and maritime stability, prevent external interference, and secure sea lanes for all. Assistance to small island states is crucial for territorial security.
Sustainability: Addressing overexploitation of resources is a joint effort to combat climate change impacts on both humans and ecosystems.
Maritime Security Challenges: Shift from conventional to non-conventional challenges, such as maritime terrorism and illegal activities, demands collective defence capabilities.
Human Security Framework: The framework, established 20-25 years ago, emphasises individual-level security, including gender impacts and socio-cultural perspectives, which is crucial in the context of escalating resource competition in the Indo-Pacific.
QUAD’s Role: The flexibility of QUAD allows dynamic discussions and proactive approaches to security challenges in the Indo-Pacific.
Australia’s Contribution: Australia’s economic strength, diplomatic influence, and strategic posture can benefit India’s development, particularly through investments in defence and collaboration on various fronts.
Bilateral Cooperation: Strengthening bilateral ties is essential, with focus areas including maritime awareness, disaster relief, and strategic and economic collaboration for a free and open Indo-Pacific.