Redoubled commitment to build Indo-Pacific systems post-COVID: Aus high commissioner-designate

New Delhi, May 15 (PTI) Australia has redoubled its commitment to build the kind of Indo-Pacific political and economic system post-COVID that favours openness and not the 'so called might is right' politics, Australian High Commissioner-designate Barry O'Farrell said on Friday.

Speaking to Observer Research Foundation president Samir Saran on 'Australia-India Relations and the Indo-Pacific Post-COVID', O'Farrell said Australia and India have aligned interests due to the strengthened bilateral relationship.

'We are redoubling our commitment to build the kind of Indo-Pacific political and economic systems that favours openness, norms and rules and not the so called might is right politics. These are the objectives that we share with India and that is the reason why we so deeply aligned on these strategic issues,' he said.

'I no longer think we have converged interests but I think we have aligned interests because of strengthened relationship,' O'Farrell said.

India, Australia, the US and several other world powers have been underlining the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's rising military maneuvering in the region.

On the India-Australia virtual bilateral summit scheduled for later this month, O'Farrell said the two countries are expected to share the best experiences gathered in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

'They will be committing to greater cooperation in the post-COVID world in the Indo-Pacific, which we share, and above all realising the greater ambition of Australia and India relationship which is delivering security and stability to the Indo-Pacific region,' he said.

Noting that it will be 'good for humanity' for India to take a more significant role at the world stage, O'Farrell said Australia has been a supporter for a long time for India assuming 'rightful place' at the UN Security Council.

'We do so because we have shared democratic values, we do so because we are both maritime pals in Indo-Pacific. We do so because we understand that organisations like WHO are critically important to countries in our regions. We want the World Health Organisation to be better equipped to combat the next disease that hits us,' he said.

O'Farrell said India should be more integrated in the global value chain and that is 'why we have been such strong supporters for India for signing up to Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)'.

'Trusted partnerships are going to become increasingly important in a post-COVID world in ensuring that we have efficient, reliable and resilient supply chains,' he said.

He said that the door is still open for India in RCEP and if India wants to rejoin then there will be no better time as it would send a signal the world that not only India is an attractive place to invest but also its potential of being a global hub as envisaged by the Make in India policy.

After years of negotiations, India pulled out of the proposed RCEP over unresolved 'core concerns' at a summit meeting of the participating countries in Bangkok.

The original RCEP was aiming to facilitate the creation of the biggest free-trade region in the world as the 16-nation grouping is home to 3.6 billion people, or nearly half the world's population. PTI UZM ANB ANB