Australia’s foreign and trade ministers have been busy meeting with regional counterparts this week as part of a push to foster stronger ties with regional partners and map a post-pandemic path.
Trade, tourism, and investment minister Dan Tehan confirmed on Wednesday that he had met with counterparts from the US, New Zealand and Singapore to discuss opportunities to expand economic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. In attendance were US secretary of commerce Gina Raimondo, New Zealand minister for trade and export growth Damien O’Connor, and Singapore minister for trade and industry Gan Kim Yong.
In a joint statement, Tehan said the group canvassed the importance of economic cooperation that was open and inclusive, the need to strengthen economic ties, improve connectivity, address climate change challenges, and support post-pandemic economic recovery. With a view to ensuring sustainability for people and businesses in the Indo-Pacific, the group also discussed economic resilience and competitiveness.
“[The group agreed] to continue to strengthen efforts to help address shared priorities for countries in the Indo-Pacific region, including enhancing supply chain resilience, promoting infrastructure investment, growing the digital and green economies, towards broadly shared economic prosperity for the region,” Tehan said.
Meanwhile, foreign minister Marise Payne announced that Australia would establish a new Consulate-General in Bengaluru, and build an India-based Centre of Excellence for Critical and Emerging Technology Policy.
The measures would strengthen Australia’s technology partnership with India, Payne said, with the Consulate-General tasked to deepen Australia’s ties to India’s innovators, technologists and entrepreneurs.
“The Consulate-General will expand our diplomatic presence in India to five diplomatic posts, further to our High Commission in New Delhi and Consulates-General in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, deepening our engagement with Indian governments at all levels,” Payne said.
“This will promote engagement with India’s southern states and our outreach to Australia’s diaspora and alumni communities.”
According to the foreign minister, the decision to build a centre of excellence recognised the opportunity of bringing together Australian and Indian technologists, policy practitioners, academics, researchers and thought leaders. She said the centre was one of the flagship initiatives of Australia’s new Action Plan for Critical Technologies, released this month, and would help to deliver a national strategy for protecting and promoting technologies.
The centre would also serve as a practical platform, Payne added, for Australia and India to shape technology governance that aligned with both nations’ values and supported an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific.
“[The centre] is a multi-stakeholder initiative that will help guide the responsible development and use of critical technologies. It will promote stronger investment opportunities and cutting-edge innovation in cyber, critical and emerging technologies,” Payne said.
“It will amplify Australia’s and India’s policy impact globally, while visiting fellows from around the Indo-Pacific will broaden the centre’s influence.”