India, Australia seek early conclusion on comprehensive trade pact End-shutdown

After implementing the interim trade agreement—Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA)—in December, India and Australia now aim to conclude negotiations for a comprehensive trade pact by the end of this year.

Both countries are also looking to reach $100 billion in bilateral trade.

“ECTA was the first stage of our financial commitment. We are now entering phase two of our discussions where we are looking at a much broader range of issues and bringing this to an ECSC,” said Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, addressing the media in the 18th joint ministerial commission with his Australian counterpart Don Farrell.

When ECTA was signed last year, it was decided that the broader idea would be to use the basis of the interim agreement to resume negotiations on the more ambitious trade agreement or the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

CECA will include discussions on further market access and results in new areas, including digital commerce, government procurement and cooperation.

Farrell, who is in India with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on an official visit, said that during the first month of the current agreement or ECTA, $2.5 billion worth of Australian goods were brought into India with a tariff lower than the previous month.

Between April and January, Australia was India’s 11th largest trading partner, with bilateral merchandise trade of $22.1 billion. India exported $6.02 billion worth of goods, while it imported $16.08 billion worth of goods during the same time period.

Goyal also said that India is in talks with Australia over critical minerals that can be used in electric vehicle batteries. “In the future, we would need those minerals for our electric vehicles… it was also discussed at the level of prime ministers,” Goyal said.

The minister further said that India has a shortage of critical minerals used in the manufacture of electric vehicle batteries. Australia, on the other hand, has huge reserves, which they do not process or manufacture.

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