Australia is one step closer to signing a new trade deal with India.
Earlier this month Australia’s Trade Minister Dan Tehan and India's Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal formally resumed negotiations on the India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
Both Ministers discussed a range of issues during the 17th India-Australia Joint Ministerial Commission meeting.
Key issues included the expeditious negotiation of a bilateral CECA, resolution of tax-related issues faced by Indian software firms in Australia, ensuring increased two-way trade and the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO scheduled to be held at the end of this year.
Both India and Australia reaffirmed their commitment to conclude a CECA, including to reach an interim agreement by December 2021 to liberalise and deepen bilateral trade in goods and services, and to conclude the negotiations on a full CECA by the end of 2022.
The Joint Ministerial Commission detailed the areas that will be covered by the interim agreement consistent with Article XXIV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, including goods, services, investment, energy and resources, logistics and transport, standards, rules of origin, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
Ministers also agreed to explore government procurement. It was agreed that there would be an exchange of offers by the end of this month.
They agreed on the need for a balanced trade agreement that encourages expanded trade and investment flows to the benefit of both of our economies.
Major trading partner
Reaffirming their commitment to working together, both ministers agreed to strengthen the rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open, and inclusive multilateral trading system embodied by the World Trade Organization.
They also agreed to work towards an ambitious and balanced outcome at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Geneva, Switzerland.
India is regarded as an important trading partner. India-Australia bilateral trade exceeded A$24 billion last year.
Major Indian exports to Australia are petroleum products, medicines, polished diamonds, gold jewellery and apparels.
Key Australian exports to India include coal, LNG, alumina and non-monetary gold. In services, major Indian exports relate to travel, telecom and computer, government and financial services, while Australian services exports were principally in education and personal related travel.
Last year, India was Australia's seventh-largest trading partner and sixth largest export destination, driven by coal and international education.