Roundtable with HE Manpreet Vohra
India-Australian growing economic and strategic cooperation was the main topic of a private roundtable the Perth USAsia Centre hosted with Indian High Commissioner to Australia, Manpreet Vohra, on 23rd March 2022. Representatives from the Centre and Western Australian government, business, academia, and other sectors gathered to discuss the evolving bilateral relationship and broader geopolitical landscape.
The roundtable was held the same week in which Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indian PM Narendra Modi held the 2nd India-Australia Virtual Summit. This saw the two leaders welcome substantial progress in political, economic, security, cyber, technology and defence ties and Australia announce $189 million worth of new Indian investments.
Ambassador Vohra’s visit to Perth also saw him launch the latest Perth USAsia Centre report, An investment-led strategy for building Australia-India economic relations. The report examines means of growing and developing the bilateral relationship, particularly in the wake of Covid-19. It draws on the successful engagement strategies of other Indian partners. The key finding – that Australia and India must expend commercial ties beyond a narrow focus on two-way trade – proved ideal framing for the roundtable conversation.
Participants discussed opportunities for evolving the Australia-India relationship in industries as diverse as education, resources, technology, aviation, defence, and space. Among other things, attendees sought to learn how Australian businesses could best position themselves to forge new commercial agreements with their Indian equivalents.
Roundtable participants were also eager to gain Ambassador Vohra’s insights on issues including the war in Ukraine, rising great power contestation in the Indo-Pacific and climate change. The High Commissioner provided frank and off-the-record insight into India’s foreign policy priorities and some of the opportunities to align them with Australian positions.
The event saw rich discussion of critical issues. Participants forged valuable new connections with one another and were enthusiastic about continuing the discussion.