Tony Abbott hopeful about India-Australia trade pact
Tony Abbott (ANI Photo)
AUSTRALIAN prime minister’s special trade envoy Tony Abbott on Friday (3) expressed optimism that his country and India would abide by the deadline of finalising the proposed trade pact which aims at enhancing their economic ties.
India and Australia have agreed to finalise a long-pending free trade agreement, officially called the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) by the end of next year and an early harvest trade deal by the conclusion of the current year, Press Trust of India reported.
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In an early harvest agreement, two trading partners slash or remove customs duties in a certain specified number of goods in an early harvest pact. Such duties were removed in the maximum number of goods traded between India and Australia in a free-trade agreement or CECA.
India, Australia to ink comprehensive free trade pact
The two nations also liberalise norms for improving trade in services and boost investments in a CECA.
“The main purpose of this visit is to try to ensure that we get the best possible trade deal between India and Australia as quickly as possible,” Abbott, a former Australian prime minister, told reporters in a virtual press conference in New Delhi.
“Based on the discussions last night with (Commerce and Industry) Minister Piyush Goyal and senior members of his team, I am confident that we can do a very good early harvest deal, which is larger rather than smaller, by the end of the year or very early in the new year,” he said, adding, “I am certainly confident, based on the discussions we had last night, that the time table will be met.”
The two countries launched negotiations for a CECA in May 2011 but the talks were suspended in 2015 due to certain disagreements over issues such as market access in agriculture and dairy products which Australia had sought and over India’s demand of visa liberalisation for professionals.
When asked about India’s sensitivities in the agricultural sector, Abbott said “Australia accepts that because of the particular nature of Indian agriculture, there are very much small family farms, as opposed to the much larger commercial operations in Australia, we absolutely accept that there are some important sensitivities in Indian agriculture”.
He said, “I am confident that we can make strong progress and one of the areas where we can make a strong progress even in the early harvest agreement is wine. I am hoping that more and more people in India will have an affordable opportunity to experience this great Australian product in the months and years ahead.”
In 2020-21, India’s exports to Australia were $4.04 billion (£3 billion), while imports were $8.24 billion (£6.2).
India mainly exported refined petroleum, medicaments, railway vehicles including hovertrains, medicaments, pearls and gems, jewellery, and made-up textile articles to Australia and imported coal, gold, copper ores and concentrates, vegetables, wool, fruits and nuts, lentils, etc.
Indian commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal tweeted about his meeting with Abbott saying, “Met with @HonTonyAbbott, Special Trade Envoy of the Prime Minister of Australia. Had an extensive discussion on the huge potential India & Australia have to further energise & expand our bilateral ties through Free Trade Agreement (FTA) for mutual economic prosperity.”