New Delhi: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will embark on a state visit to India from March 8-11 to lock India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) deal while also upgrading the bilateral relationship.

"At the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, will pay a State Visit to India on 08-11 March 2023. He will be accompanied by Senator Don Farrell, Minister for Trade and Tourism, and Madeleine King, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, along with senior officials and a high-level business delegation," read a press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

This will be Albanese's first visit to India as prime minister. He will arrive in Ahmedabad on March 8, 2023, on the day of Holi, and also visit Mumbai on March 9 before heading to Delhi.

" In Delhi, Prime Minister Albanese will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan on March 10, 2023. Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Albanese will hold the Annual Summit to discuss areas of cooperation under the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, besides regional and global issues of mutual interest," added the release.

Albanese will also call on President Droupadi Murmu.

India and Australia share warm and friendly relations based on common values and democratic principles. The strategic partnership between the two countries was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in June 2020, which has been strengthened and deepened through frequent high-level exchanges and enhanced cooperation across sectors.

Prime Minister Albanese's visit is expected to provide further momentum to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, added the release.

The two sides will carry out discussions on a variety of issues such as clean energy, tech, digital trade and procurements.

The India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) came into force on December 29, 2022. Under the pact, Australia was to offer zero-duty access to India for about 96.4 per cent of exports (by value) from the day the agreement is enforced.

India will benefit from preferential market access provided by Australia on 100 per cent of its tariff lines, including all the labour-intensive sectors of export interest to India, such as Gems and Jewellery, Textiles, leather, footwear, furniture, food, and agricultural products, engineering products, medical devices and automobiles.

India, on the other hand, will be offering preferential access to Australia on over 70 per cent of its tariff lines, including lines of export interest to Australia, which are primarily raw materials and intermediaries such as coal, mineral ores and wines.

Earlier, the Australian PM also underscored the importance of defence partnership with India.

"I look forward to strengthening that as well, as well as on security issues. Operation Malabar, of course, will occur in the coming period, which we are hosting. We have much to talk about today," added Albanese.

Malabar, which began as a bilateral exercise, is now one of the cornerstones of military interoperability of the Quad forces.

The Exercise Malabar is a Naval Exercise between India's, the United States, and Japan's navies. In recent years, Australia has also participated in the exercise, dubbed the 'Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD).'

The exercise takes place in the Indian Ocean. Depending on the complexity and missions involved, the exercise lasts anywhere from 6 to 14 sea days.