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India@75: A Look back at India’s shared and deepening cooperation with Australia

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India@75: A Look back at India’s shared and deepening cooperation with Australia

As India celebrates its 75 years of independence, many world leaders, including the prime minister of Australia, conveyed congratulations to Indians living in Australia and other countries. 

Many academics and think tanks believe that India represents the best possibility for the Western democracies looking to counter China as a strategic partner and market.  Whatever the reality on the ground, the possibility of a secular democracy with a sizable population, aspirational English speakers, and a thriving economy has long been a glimmer. Australia has contributed significantly to the alliance’s expansion.

India and Australia have a solid and purposeful bilateral relationship. The scope of Australia’s relationship with India has grown in tandem with India’s rapid economic and strategic growth, supported by trade and investment. 

According to government data, India was Australia’s seventh-largest trading partner in 2020, with two-way trade valued at $24.3 billion and the sixth-largest goods and services export market, valued at $16.9 billion. 

Interestingly, Education is Australia’s largest service export to India, valued at $6 billion and accounting for around 88 per cent of the total in 2020. At the end of 2020, Indian students in Australia numbered 115,137.

A modernising economy

The post-independence economy of India (1947–1991) was notable for its planned development, heavy regulation, and protectionism. India started a phase of economic liberalisation in 1991 that aided in its transition to a market-based economy. 

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The Indian economy grew at an average yearly rate of over 7 per cent for a decade starting in the late 1990s. India’s GDP increased seven times since 2000 to reach USD3 trillion. Since the 1990s, tens of millions of Indians have been lifted out of poverty. The nation’s economic progress is still uneven, though.

Notably, India’s independence marked a turning point in its economic history. The Indian economy, which is currently the sixth-largest by market exchange rates, was valued at $3.04 trillion in 2021, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). India’s economy is also among the fastest-growing in the world, with average annual GDP growth of 5.8 per cent during the past 20 years.

A decade in the making

The inaugural Australia-India Virtual Leaders’ Summit took place on June 4, 2020, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Honorable Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, attending. The 2009 bilateral Strategic Partnership between the two Prime Ministers was upgraded to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership at this meeting (CSP). 

The Australia-India Chamber of Commerce (AICC) held several activities across Australia in February 2022 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, Australia Day, and Indian Republic Day.

Then, in April, India and Australia agreed to a transitional free trade deal, which will increase bilateral commerce to $50 billion in five years while lowering restrictions on the movement of people and tariffs on various Australian goods. The Economic Co-operation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) was signed by Scott Morrison, the prime minister of Australia, and Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India. 

More than 6,000 Indian industries will be given duty-free access, including those producing textiles, leather, furniture, jewellery, and machinery. The Australian government is working to diversify export markets and lessen Australia’s reliance on China, its top trading partner. Both have participated in several diplomatic confrontations that have led to Beijing banning particular Australian goods.

The deal with India lowers taxes on more than 85 per cent of Australian commodities sent to India, worth $12.6 billion. Over 10 years, that percentage will increase to over 91 per cent, worth $13.4 billion. The deal would offer huge prospects for trade diversification for Australian producers and service providers exporting to India, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. 

The Australian Government has also started the Australia India Commercial Exchange (AIBX) programme to encourage more business collaborations between Australia and India. From industry-specific insights to advice on conducting business with India and breaking into India’s online retail market, AIBX offers various services to assist Australian businesses in entering and establishing in India.

Further information can be found on the Austrade website.

India-Australia ECTA

In a recent interview, India’s Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said that the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) between India and Australia would create roughly 10 lakh employment over the following four to five years. 

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The recently concluded trade agreement with Australia is anticipated to increase bilateral trade from USD 27 billion to USD 45-50 billion over the next five years. The government of India anticipates creating one million jobs in that time. The India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) was signed on April 2 by both nations.

ECTA is the first trade agreement of India with a developed country after more than a decade and provides an institutional mechanism to improve trade between the two countries.

Meet the new generation of India’s diaspora

The Australian Indian diaspora should be utilised and utilised as a national economic asset. The Indian government makes a significant effort to engage this diaspora. This also applies to the Australian Government. 

The future productivity and resiliency of the Australian business sector will be improved by leveraging the entrepreneurial spirit of this rapidly expanding group, notably its willingness to experiment and take risks, as well as its familiarity with the Indian market. Between 2006 and 2016, there was a sharp rise in migration from India to Australia, more than doubling the population of Indian descent.

The professional Indian diaspora in Australia has not yet attained the same level of influence in higher echelons of state and federal politics, academia, and business as the diasporas in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Singapore. Their presence in important economic sectors and the creation of vibrant business groups have especially contributed to the development of trust and understanding needed to increase trade and investment with India. 

They establish links with state governments and industry organisations and offer insights into India’s corporate practices, cultural landscape, and linguistic variety. They advocate for more regular visits, delegations, and conferences between government and business, and they press their governments for stronger commercial and political ties with India. Additionally, their varied perspectives support the adoption of new procedures and technology.

Investing in India-Australia Collaboration

The Indian diaspora in Australia exhibits the same spirit of entrepreneurship that is seen everywhere. Businesses owned by Australians born in India increased by 72 per cent between 2006 and 2011, compared to a 40 per cent increase for those born in China. Additionally, the transport, postal, and warehousing sector saw the greatest increase in Indian diaspora entrepreneurship between 2006 and 2016.

Like Chinese students, Indian students make up 15 per cent of the second-largest international cohort at Australian universities (34 per cent). Since 2014, there has been a sharp increase in the number of Indian international students enrolling in postgraduate programmes in Australian universities. 

But among Indian students, master’s by coursework is by far the most popular option (70 per cent), followed by bachelor’s degrees (22per cent), and it has been expanding quickly since 2014. In Australia, only 2per cent of Indian students seek PhD degrees.

India was one of the top three nations from which Australian academics were recruited between 1993 and 2013 (the other two being the United Kingdom and China). International students made up 30 per cent of all postgraduate researchers in 2014; this percentage was higher in the STEM fields of engineering (54.2 per cent), information technology (51.5 per cent), agriculture and environment (45.6 per cent), and natural and physical sciences (45.7 per cent). (36 per cent).

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The India-Australia ECTA agreement has unquestionably offered a kind of road map for a successful engagement with India in the current international environment, and its relevance must be evaluated in that context.

More of these conversations may take place, and it remains to be seen how effectively the two countries’ relations will develop in light of their shared potential and principles.

More here.

More on India’s diaspora.

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At collapsed Baltimore bridge, focus shifts to the weighty job of removing the massive structure

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At collapsed Baltimore bridge, focus shifts to the weighty job of removing the massive structure

BALTIMORE (AP) — Teams of engineers worked Saturday on the intricate process of cutting and lifting the first section of twisted steel from the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, which crumpled into the Patapsco River this week after a massive cargo ship crashed into one of its supports.

Sparks could be seen flying from a section of bent and crumpled steel in the afternoon, and video released by officials in the evening showed demolition crews using a cutting torch to slice through the thick beams. The joint incident command said in a statement that the work was being done on the top of the north side of the collapsed structure.

Crews were carefully measuring and cutting the steel from the broken bridge before attaching straps so it can be lifted onto a barge and floated away, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath said.

Seven floating cranes — including a massive one capable of lifting 1,000 tons — 10 tugboats, nine barges, eight salvage vessels and five Coast Guard boats were on site in the water southeast of Baltimore.

Each movement affects what happens next and ultimately how long it will take to remove all the debris and reopen the ship channel and the blocked Port of Baltimore, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said.

“I cannot stress enough how important today and the first movement of this bridge and of the wreckage is. This is going to be a remarkably complicated process,” Moore said.

Undeterred by the chilly morning weather, longtime Baltimore resident Randy Lichtenberg and others took cellphone photos or just quietly looked at the broken pieces of the bridge, which including its steel trusses weigh as much as 4,000 tons.

“I wouldn’t want to be in that water. It’s got to be cold. It’s a tough job,” Lichtenberg said from a spot on the river called Sparrows Point.

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The shock of waking up Tuesday morning to video of what he called an iconic part of the Baltimore skyline falling into the water has given way to sadness.

“It never hits you that quickly. It’s just unbelievable,” Lichtenberg said.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

One of the first goals for crews on the water is to get a smaller auxiliary ship channel open so tugboats and other small barges can move freely. Crews also want to stabilize the site so divers can resume searching for four missing workers who are presumed dead.

Two other workers were rescued from the water in the hours following the bridge collapse, and the bodies of two more were recovered from a pickup truck that fell and was submerged in the river. They had been filling potholes on the bridge and while police were able to stop vehicle traffic after the ship called in a mayday, they could not get to the construction workers, who were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The crew of the cargo ship Dali, which is managed by Synergy Marine Group, remained on board with the debris from the bridge around it, and were safe and were being interviewed. They are keeping the ship running as they will be needed to get it out of the channel once more debris has been removed.

The vessel is owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd. and was chartered by Danish shipping giant Maersk.

The collision and collapse appeared to be an accident that came after the ship lost power. Federal and state investigators are still trying to determine why.

Assuaging concern about possible pollution from the crash, Adam Ortiz, the Environmental Protection Agency’s mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, said there was no indication in the water of active releases from the ship or materials hazardous to human health.

REBUILDING

Officials are also trying to figure out how to handle the economic impact of a closed port and the severing of a major highway link. The bridge was completed in 1977 and carried Interstate 695 around southeast Baltimore.

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Maryland transportation officials are planning to rebuild the bridge, promising to consider innovative designs or building materials to hopefully shorten a project that could take years.

President Joe Biden’s administration has approved $60 million in immediate aid and promised the federal government will pay the full cost to rebuild.

Ship traffic at the Port of Baltimore remains suspended, but the Maryland Port Administration said trucks were still being processed at marine terminals.

The loss of a road that carried 30,000 vehicles a day and the port disruption will affect not only thousands of dockworkers and commuters, but also U.S. consumers, who are likely to feel the impact of shipping delays. The port handles more cars and more farm equipment than any other U.S. facility.

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Collins reported from Columbia, South Carolina. Associated Press writers Sarah Brumfield in Washington, D.C.; Kristin M. Hall in Nashville, Tennessee; Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee; and Lisa Baumann in Bellingham, Washington, contributed.

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The Texas attorney general is investigating a key Boeing supplier and asking about diversity

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The Texas attorney general is investigating a key Boeing supplier and asking about diversity

DALLAS (AP) — The Texas attorney general has opened an investigation into a key Boeing supplier that is already facing scrutiny from federal regulators over quality of parts that it provides to the aircraft maker.

The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said it began looking into Spirit AeroSystems because of “apparent manufacturing defects” in parts that “have led to numerous concerning or dangerous incidents.”

In a statement Friday, a Spirit spokesman said, “While we do not comment on investigations, Spirit is wholly focused on providing the highest quality products to all our customers, to include the Boeing Company.”

Paxton asked the Wichita, Kansas-based supplier to turn over documents produced since the start of 2022 about communication with investors and Boeing about flaws in parts and corrective steps the company took.

The request goes into detail in seeking internal discussions around Spirit’s efforts to create a diverse workforce “and whether those commitments are unlawful or are compromising the company’s manufacturing processes.” Paxton asked for a breakdown of Spirit’s workforce by race, sexual orientation and other factors, and whether the makeup has changed over time.

Since a Spirit-made door-plug panel blew off an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max in January, some conservatives have tried to link aviation safety to diversity at manufacturers.

Paxton is a conservative Republican who this week agreed to pay $271,000 in restitution to victims and take 15 hours of training in legal ethics to settle felony charges of securities fraud. Paxton did not admit wrongdoing in the 9-year-old case.

The Federal Aviation Administration launched an investigation into Boeing Spirit after the Alaska Airlines incident. An FAA audit of manufacturing procedures in Spirit’s factory gave the company failing grades in seven of 13 areas.

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Boeing is in talks to buy back Spirit, which it spun off nearly 20 years ago, as part of a plan to tighten oversight of manufacturing in its supply chain.

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Boeing plane found to have missing panel after flight from California to southern Oregon

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Boeing plane found to have missing panel after flight from California to southern Oregon

By CLAIRE RUSH and LISA BAUMANN

 

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A post-flight inspection revealed a missing panel on an older Boeing 737-800 that had just arrived at its destination in southern Oregon on Friday after flying from San Francisco, officials said, the latest in a series of recent incidents involving aircraft manufactured by the company.

United Flight 433 left San Francisco at 10:20 a.m. and landed at Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport in Medford shortly before noon, according to FlightAware. The airport’s director, Amber Judd, said the plane landed safely without incident and the external panel was discovered missing during a post-flight inspection. No injuries were reported.

The airport paused operations to check the runway and airfield for debris, Judd said, and none was found.

Judd said she believed the United ground crew or pilots doing a routine inspection before the next flight were the ones who noticed the missing panel.

A United Airlines spokesperson said via email that the flight was carrying 139 passengers and six crew members, and no emergency was declared because there was no indication of the damage during the flight.

 

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The Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center is pictured in Medford, Ore., on Jan. 4, 2024. The first lawsuit filed Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, brought amid reports that a nurse at the southern Oregon hospital replaced intravenous fentanyl drips with tap water seeks up to $11.5 million on behalf of the estate of a 65-year-old man who died. (Janet Eastman/The Oregonian/The Oregonian via AP)

 

“After the aircraft was parked at the gate, it was discovered to be missing an external panel,” the United spokesperson said. “We’ll conduct a thorough examination of the plane and perform all the needed repairs before it returns to service. We’ll also conduct an investigation to better understand how this damage occurred.”

The Federal Aviation Administration also said it would investigate.

The missing panel was on the underside of the aircraft where the wing meets the body and just next to the landing gear, United said.

The plane made its first flight in April 1998 and was delivered to Continental Airlines in December of that year, according to the FAA. United Airlines has operated it since Nov. 30, 2011. It is a 737-824, part of the 737-800 series that was a precursor to the Max.

Boeing said, also via email, that it would defer comment to United about the carrier’s fleet and operations.

In January a panel that plugged a space left for an extra emergency door blew off a Boeing Max 9 jet in midair just minutes after an Alaska Airlines flight took off from Portland, leaving a gaping hole and forcing pilots to make an emergency landing. There were no serious injuries.

The door plug was eventually found in the backyard of a high school physics teacher in southwest Portland, along with other debris from the flight scattered nearby. The Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation.

On March 6, fumes detected in the cabin of a Boeing 737-800 Alaska Airlines flight destined for Phoenix caused pilots to head back to the Portland airport.

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The Port of Portland said passengers and crew noticed the fumes and the flight landed safely. Seven people including passengers and crew requested medical evaluations, but no one was hospitalized, officials said.

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Baumann reported from Bellingham, Washington.

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