Australia Deputy PM in India to fortify bilateral ties

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 12, 2012 11:01 hrs

Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan met Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday to boost bilateral trade and defence ties, including talks over possible export of uranium to New Delhi.

Swan, who is also his country's Treasury Secretary, plans to improve trade and economic ties, which are positive despite the recent global meltdown.

Education and tourism are among the key exchanges between the two countries, with Indian students forming a substantial number of those enrolling in Australian universities for higher education.

Earlier in October, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard had met her Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, where both sides showed their eagerness to speed up uranium trade.

In December 2011, Gillard's Labour Party voted to overturn the Australian policy on uranium exports to India, which is only just emerging from years of diplomatic isolation over its nuclear weapons programme.

Uranium exports would boost a commercial relationship that has seen bilateral trade grow at 13 percent annually in the past five years. Australia is already the biggest supplier of coal to India, which relies on the fuel for just over half its total power generation.

For Australia, which has 40 percent of the world's known uranium reserves but supplies only 20 percent of demand, it opens up a new market at a time when the global nuclear industry is still recovering from the fallout of the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in Japan last year.

The 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which includes Australia and the United States, waived a three-decade ban on exports to India in 2008 after agreeing assurances that New Delhi would not put any such nuclear trade to military use. (ANI)

More from Sify: