New Delhi [India], February 11 (ANI): Calibrating on a series of meetings towards finalizing an interim free trade agreement (FTA), India and Australia finally announced significant progress leading to the drawing up of the limited trade deal in March 2022.
Addressing a joint press conference on Friday with his Australian counterpart Dan Tehan, Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment, Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry called the convergence of ideas and accommodation of sensitive issues of both partners towards bringing to fruition the interim deal as a watershed moment in the India Australia relationship.
"I had very fruitful discussions with the Australian Minister and significant progress has been made in advancing the FTA between the two nations," Goyal said.
As a build-up to the interim deal, the two sides also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote tourism -- which has mutually suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic -- and further strengthen economic ties.
"Our partnership has been unique, nurtured by the personal relationship between the Prime Ministers of both countries. We had discussions with openness and concern," added Goyal.
The early harvest agreement is expected to cover goods, services, rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, customs procedures, and legal and institutional issues.
Importantly, the India-Australia interim deal takes care of sensitivities on both sides, according to Goyal. An early harvest pact is generally aimed at liberalizing the trade of certain goods between two countries before a comprehensive one.
In this case, both have much at stake in granting increased market access to Australian wines as well as helping enhance mobility for professionals and students for India.
What the FTA will do for both, said the Australian Minister, is boost the bilateral trade of USD 20 bn in a quantum way. "We will see more Australians coming to see the landmarks sights in India," said Tehan.
The Minister exhorted that India and Australia are linked by the great Indian Ocean; connected by history, shared inheritances, and deeply interlinked destinies.
Both Ministers agreed on the need for a balanced trade agreement that encourages expanded trade and investment flows to the benefit of both of the economies and to expeditiously resolve tax-related issues faced by Indian software firms in Australia.
Tehan also announced that on February 21, Australia would be open to travelers from all over the world and extended his invitation to Indians to visit Australia. The Minister opined that as a result of the MoU, the education relationship between the two nations would also flourish.
"We are looking at mutual recognition of qualifications in Australia so that students can now study in both nations," he said.
Tehan expressed confidence that the interim agreement would be a significant milestone in the relationship between our two countries. He said that the warmth of the relationship between the two nations and the honesty and transparency with which the negotiations happened would certainly help build very strong and robust economic ties. (ANI)