India and Australia are expected to restart discussions on a bilateral free trade agreement soon.
According to Barry O’Farrell, Australia’s High Commissioner to India, official talks between the two nations are underway to resume talks on the India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
The discussions were put on hold in 2015 due to disagreements over matters such as agricultural and dairy market access, which Canberra had requested. The second Covid-19 wave, according to O’Farrell, hasn’t dampened the world’s enthusiasm for India.
“Resumption of trade deal talks is being discussed between officials,” he said. In May 2011, Australia and India began negotiations for a CECA.
Nine rounds of negotiations have been placing, the most recent in September 2015. India’s exports to Australia totalled $4.04 billion in the fiscal year 2021, while imports totalled $8.24 billion.
Refined petroleum, pharmaceuticals, railway cars, including hovertrains, pearls and diamonds, jewellery, and made-up textile goods were the principal exports from India.
Coal, copper ores and concentrates, gold, vegetables, wool and other animal hair, fruits and nuts, lentils, and education-related subjects were among the most common imports.
“The second wave in India has failed to dent world enthusiasm… This is a strong partnership. The economic agenda will rebuild, like the latest wave, “O’Farrell said it appreciated the country’s second wave management by means of targeted, calibrated lockouts.
Reengagement in the bilateral trade pact is part of the broad strategic partnership between India and Australia and takes account of earlier bilateral talks, where there is mutually agreed progress.
As a result of the high market access sought by other members and the lack of protection against cheap imports from China because of the less stringent rules of origin, India was re- established after 2019 from the Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP).
India and Australia, together with Japan, are also part of the trilateral Supply Chain Resilience Initiative. O’Farrell said it had expressed the greatest interest to join the Southeast Asian Nations group.
Australian Trade and Investment Commissioner Tim White said that the infrastructure and energy sectors were the two areas where Australia could add capacities to India’s production-linked incentive scheme aimed at strengthening production in the country.
Other areas of concern were rare earth minerals and metals.
White said the Australia India Business Exchange, Australia’s flagship government program for the advancement of trade and investment links with India, has been focussing on health, financial services, and technology.