India, Australia agree to conclude talks to expand trade deal soon; Keeping an eye on $100 billion trade

India and Australia on Saturday announced their commitment to finalize negotiations to expand the scope of the existing free trade agreement by the end of this year, aiming to boost bilateral trade to $100 billion.

The issue came up during the joint ministerial commission meeting between Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and his Australian counterpart Don Farrell.

Farrell is accompanying Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese who is here on an official visit.

On December 29 last year, India and Australia established an Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) and are now negotiating to extend their scope for a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

“ECTA was the first phase of our commercial commitment. We are now entering Phase 2 of our discussions, where we will look at a much broader range of issues and bring that into a CECA,” Goyal told reporters here.

Following initial talks at the India-Australia summit here on March 10 on a number of key issues, Albanese said both sides are aiming for a consolidation of the ambitious CECA by 2023, while mentioning in a joint statement that the two prime ministers have supported the officials concerned accelerated the conclusion of a Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement (MMPA) within the next three months.

On the deadline for completing CECA negotiations, Goyal said that anything done with a deadline is always “dangerous” because “one could make mistakes” but “we” need to do things quickly.

Both trade ministers are determined to speed up the negotiations.

Both Prime Ministers have “jointly tasked us to work towards the conclusion of the CECA negotiations within this calendar year. We would like to do that. ” he added.

He also said that “we are very, very unhappy” with the $30 billion bilateral trade, and officials of India and Australia have maintained a target of $45 billion to $50 billion over the next five years.

Both ministers have expressed their “dissatisfaction” with the negotiators, saying they “will be much more ambitious and aim for $100 billion worth of trade between the two economies,” he said.

Farrell said the two countries can “achieve” that goal.

Goyal said there are tremendous opportunities to increase collaboration in areas such as education, technology, audio-video services and sports.

While Australia has some “very” good tech, the best educational institutes and sports, India has something to offer in terms of its talent pool, manufacturing base and startup ecosystem, he said.

Referring to increasing agricultural trade with Australia, India’s Trade Minister said there are several areas of common interest being examined by the Agriculture Ministries of both sides to address sanitary and phytosanitary (plant and animal related) issues.

Citing the example of Australian avocados and Indian oakra, he said: “Both sides have different products where market access is encouraged. The problem with the Indian pomegranate seeds has been solved. On their side, the pet food certification issues will be resolved.”

There is an opening up of some elements of agriculture in ECTA and “we will look openly to moving forward wherever there are areas of complementarity and mutual benefit,” he added.

Goyal credited Australia for addressing Indian sensitivities in the agricultural and dairy sectors, where small and marginal farmers are involved.

“We are looking for win-win opportunities in many areas that will open up great potential, such as space technology, Australian education systems and critical minerals, Australian-developed energy storage systems, and sports… Our focus has been on leverage mutual comparative competitive advantages to Add trade,” he added.

Farrell said Australia has all the critical minerals to build batteries for electric vehicles.

He also said Australia shipped $2.5 billion worth of goods to India in the first month of ECTA.

Farrell added that the Australian wine industry could come to India and support the sector here in terms of sharing knowledge and quality.

“I hope that in the coming months we can send our wine sector teams from India and invite teams from Australia who come to forge alliances of mutual collaboration,” said Goyal.

Goyal added that India could learn various water sports from Australia because of its long coastline.

Asked whether Australia would like to include gender and sustainability issues in the CECA, Farrell said the country sees these issues as part of the CECA.

Goyal said India is open to negotiations and is trying to work with the rest of the world from a position of strength and learn from best practices. India, Australia agree to conclude talks to expand trade deal soon; Keeping an eye on $100 billion trade

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