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Early harvest trade deal with Australia by Christmas, full FTA by 2022

Money Control - 30 September 2021

Early harvest trade deal with Australia by Christmas, full FTA by 2022
By Subhayan Chakraborty

India and Australia will sign a comprehensive Free Trade agreement by the end of 2022 and an early harvest trade deal by Christmas later this year.

As talks on the proposed Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) gain pace, both government’s have decided to exchange the first list of offers by October.

This was announced at a joint media briefing with Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan, who is currently visiting for talks on the deal.

"It will cover goods, services, investments, govt procurement, logistics, standards, rules of origin. We have decided to exchange offers by the end of October," Tehan said. There will be dedicated negotiating teams continuously interacting to quickly sign the deal, he added.

"Both negotiating teams will start working immediately, identifying the sectors," Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said. He added the latest talks are built upon earlier discussions on the matter, but hinted that a new perspective is guiding the discussion process.

Both sides had announced last month that they aim for an early harvest trade deal by December 2021. An early harvest trade deal is one in which both parties sign off on a set of relatively easily achievable deliverables. Such pacts target specific goals like tariff reduction and market access on select items while leaving more contentious items off the agenda.

Moneycontrol had recently reported that the deal could be the first one to have a formal chapter on tightening supply chains between the countries.

Discussions on market access for Australian dairy products and meat, apart from Australia’s discomfort with opening up services exports, have proved to be major sticking points in the deal, talks on which had begun in 2011.

Senior Aussie trade officials had earlier told Moneycontrol that Australia aims to significantly expand business with India in diverse sectors such as food and grains, core minerals, and high-tech equipment.

Australia was India’s 15th largest trading partner, as of 2020-21, with trade worth $12.29 billion, and a trade deficit of $4.2 billion. Earlier this month, Australia also signed the Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement with Bangladesh.

 source: Money Control