On June 10, representatives from India and Australia met to form a Joint Working Group (JWG) to begin discussions on cyber security cooperation. The JWG meeting kicked off one of the action objectives outlined in the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) agreed by the two countries in June of last year. The CSP aims to provide a regionally coordinated response to COVID-19 while also bolstering long-term bilateral collaboration in the technological, regional, maritime, and economic areas. The Framework Arrangement on Cyber and Cyber-Enabled Critical Technology Cooperation, as well as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the Field of Mining and Processing of Critical and Strategic Minerals, were included in the CSP to improve science, technology, and research
This article outlines how this partnership can strengthen India’s cybersecurity capabilities, boost its influence in global Artificial Intelligence (AI) governance regimes, and enhance its role in critical mineral supply chains as both countries prepare for the upcoming Cyber Policy Dialogue and the inaugural meeting of the JWG on Information, Communication, and Technology.
Governance of cybersecurity
Maharashtra’s key power infrastructure was targeted by a sophisticated cyber-attack in November 2020. Similar attacks on crucial infrastructure, allegedly carried out by China, have wreaked havoc on Australia’s government and vital services, including hospitals. Such state-sponsored cyber-attacks can bring nations to a halt, emphasizing the importance of developing collaborative technology solutions. As stated in Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020, the Australian government seeks international cooperation in holding cyber attackers accountable and strengthening the capacities of the agencies engaged through international engagement.
Australia and India may lead efforts to create a single database with details of such state- sponsored cyber-attacks to more effectively identify attack patterns, exposure, and vulnerabilities. To perform patch management exercises, this database would be accessible to a closed group of specialists from both countries who are members of JWG.
In 2020, Australia published an AI Ethics Framework, while India’s NITI Aayog published Principles for Responsible AI in early 2021. Both countries will have to work together to examine the overlaps and inconsistencies between the proposed ethical AI frameworks to produce real ethical procedures for the development and deployment of key AI use cases.
While the values mentioned in the two frameworks are quite similar, such as fairness, transparency, and explainability, Australia’s framework additionally proposes the “Principle of Contestability.”
Consistent standards will make it easier to reduce regulatory hurdles like knowledge asymmetry about ethical norms that must be met, which have previously hampered start- ups’ ability to expand market access. It will also improve the flow of information and skills between the two economies. Because India and Australia are not at the same stage of
development, reaching a consensus on policy risks and objectives for specific use cases may be difficult.
This could lead to various motives for implementing certain AI use cases. For example, Australia may wish to prioritize second or third-order issues like employing AI to improve educational performance, whereas India may want to prioritize improving internet connectivity for its inhabitants. Stakeholders from both nations’ academics, industry, and
civil society might help the Joint Working Group identify priority areas for AI application cases. India and Australia are falling behind more sophisticated economies in terms of AI usage. Advanced AI economies are more likely to have a say in determining the most important AI use cases for development and the ethical tradeoffs that must be made. Both
countries will have more negotiating leverage to drive debates on responsible AI and data governance at the Global Partnership on AI forum if they are successful in identifying and implementing ethical norms as part of CSP. It would also aid in the implementation of their commitment to collaborate in multilateral fora and the establishment of a strong position among global AI leaders.
Expansion of essential mineral trade
In India, the electric vehicle (EV) market is quickly expanding. Several Indian states have issued or implemented regulations to support the electric vehicle industry. Lithium-ion batteries are one of the raw materials required for the production of electric vehicles. India had been importing Lithium-ion batteries from China, Japan, and South Korea until recently.
India placed taxes on China for Lithium imports in response to recent confrontations in the Galwan Valley.
India is currently looking to buy lithium from Australia. Currently, trade flows between India and Australia are not performing optimally. However, Australia intends to extend its Lithium export market to avoid being reliant on China as a market. As part of the CSP, India, and Australia want to sign an MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Mining and Processing of Critical and Strategic Minerals. Both countries will be able to participate in a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) to increase investment flows as a result of the collaboration.
Both nations had previously committed to participate in CECA, but discussions were halted in 2015 due to Australia’s unwillingness to make a statement against China by openly offering trade and investment support to India. CECA might be used to press for tax breaks on processed element purchases as a way to encourage private sector investment in rare earth elements in India. In recent years, a few Indian corporations have made considerable investments in technical solutions in Australia.
After years of stalled efforts to forge a long-term relationship, India and Australia took advantage of the COVID-19 problem and a trade war between China and the United States to broaden their collaboration across sectors. By adopting the aforementioned ideas to facilitate technology cooperation in cybersecurity and AI governance, as well as a growing trade in essential minerals, Australia and India will set an example for the Indo-Pacific region to strengthen regional cooperation.