Australia's relationship with India grows stronger amid China trade war

By Aidan Wondracz For Daily Mail Australia and Aap 23:22 19 Nov 2022, updated 23:32 19 Nov 2022

  • Anthony Albanese joked and laughed with Indian Prime Minister Modi at G20
  • Mr Albanese appeared more reserved as he met Chinese president Xi Jinping
  • Meeting between the two nations marked first time leaders had met in six years 

Anthony Albanese joked and laughed as he met the Indian prime minister in a sign of strengthening ties between the two countries as tensions linger with China.  

The prime minister and Narrendra Modi appeared to be in high spirits as they met on the sidelines of the G20 summit on Wednesday.

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Mr Albanese cracked a joke that Mr Modi was now ‘president and prime minister’ with India to host the G20 presidency next year. 

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Their encounter was more relaxed than the polite handshake shared between Mr Albanese and Chinese president Xi Jinping on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister and Narrendra Modi appeared to be in high spirits as they met on the sidelines of the G20 summit on Wednesday
Their encounter was visibly more relaxed than the polite handshake shared between Mr Albanese and Chinese president Xi Jinping on Tuesday

Mr Albanese made it a point to mend the relationship and end years of tensions with their meeting marking the first time in six years leaders from both countries sat down.

He already met Mr Modi when the pair were introduced at the Quadrilateral Dialogue in Tokyo after his election win on May 21.

Mr Albanese later tweeted about their latest meeting and the strengthening of ties between Australia and the world’s fifth-largest economy. 

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‘So wonderful to see my friend @narendramodi and to celebrate the rich connections between our two countries and our people,’ he wrote on Wednesday. 

The prime ministers will meet again when Mr Albanese visits India in March and Mr Modi visits Australia for the Quad Leader’s Summit. 

Australia India Institute chief executive Lisa Singh said the warm reception marked a momentous year where the countries gradually strengthened their ties.

‘This has been the most impactful year for the relationship that I’ve seen,’ she told Sydney Morning Herald

He later tweeted about their latest meeting and the strengthening of ties between Australia and the fifth-largest economy in the world
India is the country’s fifth largest economy with relationships strengthening between the country and Australia

The two countries signed the Australia-India Economic Co-operation and Trade Agreement in April, eliminating tariffs on more than 85 per cent of Australian exports.

The trade deal was approved by a parliamentary committee on Friday.   

Labor MP Josh Wilson described it as an ‘early harvest’ agreement that would pave the way for further trade, market access, investment and regulation.

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‘The committee has noted the importance of improved tariff reductions, greater access to services and on broader matters like intellectual property, cultural heritage, the environment and labour rights,’ he said.

Australia hosted Indian ministers nine times this year, prompting External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar to say he saw relationships improving ‘in front of my eyes’.

‘If I were to look at five big relationships which have changed for us very profoundly in the past decade, I would surely put Australia right up there,’ he said in February. 

Mr Albanese’s meeting with Mr Jinping was the first time an Australian prime minister met with the Chinese president since Malcolm Turnbull in 2016.

Mr Albanese made it a point to mend the relationship and end years of tensions with their meeting marking the first time in six years leaders from both countries had met

Relations soured over the past few years after former prime minister Scott Morrison angered the nation after calling for an inquiry into the origins of Covid in 2020.

The two countries spiralled into a trade war with tariffs slapped on exports like barley, coal, lobster, and wine. 

Mr Albanese described his meeting with Mr Jinping as an ‘important step towards the stabilisation of the Australia-China relationship’. 

China’s $20 billion trade sanctions on Australia remain and Mr Albanese has not revealed whether there have been discussions about sending a diplomatic delegation to Beijing.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern received an invitation to visit Beijing after her meeting with Mr Xi on Friday.

Mr Albanese said he would progress the relationship one day at a time.

‘I regard (the meetings) as a step forward and that we need to step forward together,’ he said.

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‘I’m not getting ahead of myself. I think that engagement with China, like engagement with other nations, is constructive.’