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India, Australia free trade pact talks in June, July: FS Vinay Kwatra

The launch of the India-Australia ECTA (Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement) recently, the discussions have progressed very well within a short period of time.

India, Australia free trade pact talks in June, July: FS Vinay Kwatra
Australian PM Anthony Albanese and PM Narendra Modi

SYDNEY: Regarding the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) negotiations between India and Australia, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra on Wednesday said that they are planned in the month of June, and July respectively regarding the deadline set for CECA negotiations.

He said that after the launch of the India-Australia ECTA (Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement) recently, the discussions have progressed very well within a short period of time.

"All I understand is the next couple of rounds of CECA negotiation is planned for... I think one in June and another in the month of July. You would've noticed and perhaps appreciated the fact that ECTA was only launched very recently and within such a short time, the discussions have progressed from not only full utilization of the benefits that are available to the business community under ECTA but also to start talking about on how these can further be built upon through comprehensive economic cooperation agreement," Kwatra said during the special press briefing on PM Modi's Australia visit.

The India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (IndAusECTA) came into effect on December 29, 2022. The ECTA was signed on April 2, 2022, and ratified on November 21, written notifications were exchanged on November 29 and after 30 days, the Agreement came into force.

India and Australia implemented an economic co-operation and trade agreement (ECTA) and are now negotiating to expand its scope for the CECA.

"Well, for those who asked about the deadline, I would only refer you to the fact that the next two rounds have been planned for June and July," Kwatra added further.

However, he also said that market access is a subject matter of very detailed discussions.

"Market access whether it is for goods, or for services or it is in the movement of capital is a subject matter of very very detailed discussions between professional negotiators," the Foreign Secretary said.

In March this year, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that India and Australia are working towards a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, emphasising that people-to-people connections have been the foundation of ties between the two countries.

Albanese said that high-level contact between the two countries has further strengthened cooperation across many sectors.

The bilateral trade between the two countries amounts to nearly 27 billion dollars in 2021-22. The bilateral trade is expected to cross 45 to 50 billion dollars by 2035.

Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and Australia's Minister for Trade and Tourism Don Farrell met in March to discuss steps for further enhancing the bilateral economic relationship.

According to a joint statement, they discussed the implementation of the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), negotiations for the India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) and further development of two-way investment.

Regarding the discussions between PM Modi, and Albanese in Sydney on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Kwatra said that the focus of the discussion was on the impact of the conflict on various economic dimensions, particularly on developing countries.

"As I mentioned in my opening remarks also, the focus of discussion with regard to the Russia-Ukraine conflict was on the impact of that conflict on various economic dimensions and in particular their impact on the developing countries," Kwatra said in response to media queries.

"So, the challenges particularly relating to food security, the derivative, inflationary pressures which emerged out of the food security challenges earlier on. The uncertainty relating to the fuel, oil in that sense...there it was more about how the uncertainty itself burdens many of the developing countries in terms of planning how the energy security of that particular country is to be structured etc," he added.

Talking about other issues that were discussed between the two PMs, Kwatra said, "The discussions between the two prime ministers there were also areas of regional significance that came up for discussion, Quad (comprising of Australia, India, Japan and US), where they spoke about free, open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific, and discussions in the QUAD and the Indo-Pacific and discussions in the quad realm and indo-pacific realm and how India and Australia can work together to shape a positive agenda in Quad and indo-pacific was discussed naturally."

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