Australia-India trade bonanza could soon be sealed
Australia could sign a "transformational" Indian trade deal by the end of the year after Anthony Albanese wrapped up his visit to the subcontinent by unveiling a string of agreements.
At a joint address with Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, the prime minister revealed the two countries had finalised deals to boost economic and cultural ties.
Significantly, Mr Albanese said the nations agreed on an early conclusion to their Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreement, adding he was hopeful it would be wrapped up by the end of the year.
"This transformational deal will realise the full potential of the bilateral economic relationship, creating employment opportunities and raising living standards for the people of both Australia and India," he said.
A limited free-trade agreement between the countries came into effect in January but has already borne fruit, with more than $2.5 billion worth of Australian produce hitting India.
The pair also announced an Australia-India solar task force co-chaired by Australian professor Renate Egan, one tangible outcome from discussions of the need to address climate change.
The nations are also set to work more closely on supplying critical minerals as India seeks to meet ambitious goals of 50 per cent renewable energy and 30 per cent electric vehicle usage by 2030.
"I am proud of the existing co-operation between Australia and India on solar and hydrogen technologies ... and the opportunities for us to work more closely to secure critical minerals supply chains," Mr Albanese said.
"The task force will provide our governments with advice on opportunities to accelerate solar PV deployment and enhance supply chains."
An audiovisual co-production agreement was also signed, supporting skilled jobs and creative exchange in the development of screen projects.
The leaders also made "significant and ambitious progress" on defence and security and committed to more information sharing.
"Prime Minister Modi and I discussed the increasingly uncertain global security environment and committed to strengthening the Australia-India defence and security partnership to address shared challenges and work towards an open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific," Mr Albanese said.
"I welcome increased defence information sharing between Australia and India including in the maritime domain."
Mr Albanese had earlier toured a new aircraft carrier INS Vikrant - the first such vessel to be built in India - before he foreshadowed a national security deal.
Later this year, Australia will host Exercise Malabar for the first time and India will make its inaugural participation in Australia's Talisman Sabre exercise.
The prime minister earlier laid a wreath at the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi, who he labelled a "giant of the 20th century".
Mr Albanese will also address the Indian Institute of Technology about opportunities to strengthen higher education links, holding a question and answer session with students.
The institute has partnerships with several Australian universities.