ABC | 4 September 2014
Australia to consider free trade agreement, stronger economic ties with India, Tony Abbott says
By South Asia correspondent Stephanie March
The Prime Minister says Australia will consider negotiating a free trade agreement with India once it has finalised a trade deal with China.
Tony Abbott is visiting Mumbai and New Dehli during his two-day trip to India, his first since being elected.
He said he wants to see economic ties between the two nations strengthened and a free trade deal could assist that.
"So, we are serious about free trade. At the moment, our priority is the free trade agreement with China, but there is an abundance of potential in the economic relationship between Australia and India," he said.
"Once the China agreement is finalised - should that be finalised - obviously, we’ll be turning our attention to this one.
"This is already an important economic relationship. I want it to be far more important in the years and decades to come.
"We haven’t invested enough time and effort in this particular relationship when it comes to trade and investment."
Mr Abbott is set to sign an agreement with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to allow uranium exports to India for electricity generation on Friday.
Meanwhile, a government MP is using the expected signing of a uranium export deal to renew his push for nuclear power in Australia.
Liberal backbencher and former nuclear scientist Dennis Jensen said it is now time to again put nuclear power on the agenda.
"I think it is absolutely absurd that we are the only OECD country that doesn’t even allow it," he said.
"And certainly when you’re looking at energy costs we need to have a look at everything that’s on the table globally, certainly nuclear energy is cost competitive from the data I’ve seen."
Australian students to study in Mumbai
On a visit to Mumbai University on Thursday Mr Abbott announced 30 scholarships for Australian students to study in India as part of the New Colombo Plan.
Mr Abbott also laid a wreath at a memorial for the victims of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and met with Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar at the Cricket Club of India.
The pair were joined by Australian cricket stars Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee.
After the meeting, Mr Abbott announced Mr Lee will soon star in a Bollywood film called UnIndian alongside Indian actress Tannishtha Chatterjee.
There are also plans for a collection of Don Bradman’s cricket memorabilia to tour India in the near future.