Early conclusion of India-Australia FTA talks likely

Melbourne: Expecting a “substantial headway” in negotiations for the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) with Australia, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has expressed hope for an early conclusion of the talks.

“I do hope substantial headway is made and the grey areas are sorted out,” Jaitley said.

During his visit, he had met Australian Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb, who is coming to India next week. Quoting Jaitley, AFR Weekend, said that the minister wants to see the negotiations to conclude in an expeditious manner but it was not up to him as the subject was led by Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The talks for a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA), also known as FTA, between India and Australia were started in 2011 to provide fillip to both trade and investments between the two countries. Both the sides were expecting to conclude the negotiations as early as possible but there were differences on areas like duty cut in dairy and wines. Several rounds of negotiations have been completed for liberalising trade and services regime besides removing non-tariff barriers and encouraging investments. Australia is pushing for tariff reduction in dairy, fresh fruit, pharma, meats and wines. On the other hand, India wants zero duty on auto parts, textiles, and fresh fruits, including mangoes and greater access in services sector. The bilateral trade stood at USD 13 billion in 2014-15 as against USD 12.12 billion in the previous fiscal. — PTI

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