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India, Australia to include e-commerce in final free trade pact

Business Standard | 3 October 2021

India, Australia to include e-commerce in final free trade pact

India and Australia have agreed to include e-commerce in the final free trade agreement which is likely to be put in place by the end of next year, according to the visiting Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan.

"E-commerce was something that we discussed yesterday. And what minister (Piyush) Goyal and myself agreed was that there would be an e-commerce chapter in the final agreement," he said while addressing a press conference here.

The two countries have agreed to have an interim or early harvest trade agreement by Christmas and final free trade agreement or Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) by the end of 2022. The two sides also decided to have an exchange of offers regarding the proposed CECA agreement by October.

The decision to expedite negotiations for India-Australia CECA between the two countries was taken at a meeting between Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Tehan on Thursday.

To a query related to agriculture, the visiting minister said there are certain sectors that Australia want to improve its access into the Indian market "but also we understand" that there are sensitivities in India that have to be taken into account.

"So it might be that there are some areas where we can use investment, there might be some areas where we can use technology... where we can use services to help in terms of growing the partnership when it comes to agriculture," he said, and added "in the end we want to make this (CECA) a win win for for both countries".

The proposed trade agreement would cover trade in goods and services, and investment, among others.

India-Australia bilateral trade has exceeded AUD 24 billion last year.

Major Indian exports to Australia are petroleum products, medicines, polished diamonds, gold jewellery, apparels etc, while 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.

In 2020, India was Australia’s seventh-largest trading partner and sixth largest export destination, driven by coal and international education.

 source: Business Standard