Feasibility Study report on FTA between the two nations released

Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean on Tuesday released the Feasibility Study report on India-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) conducted by the Joint Study Group (JSG) of the two countries and decided to seek mandate from their respective governments to go ahead with the trade talks.

Mr. Sharma asserted that Australia's refusal to supply uranium to India for its civil nuclear programme would in no way hamper trade relations or kick starting of FTA talks between the two countries. He was addressing a joint press conference here along with Mr. Crean.

He said India received full support and backing of the international community for its civilian nuclear programme. “The Nuclear Suppliers Group and the International Atomic Energy Agency have stood by India in this area. We are aware of Australia's position on the issue and I assure that it will not become a stumbling block in expanding trade, especially in the context of the FTA talks,” he said.

Both the Ministers agreed that there remained significant potential for sustained growth in trade and investment flows between the two countries.

The JSG recommended negotiation of a comprehensive bilateral FTA and endorsed the feasibility study recommendation noting that both sides would need to undertake further internal processes before negotiations could be launched.

Both sides agreed to expedite constitution of the India-Australia CEOs Forum and looked forward to Australia hosting the first meeting of the forum. The Ministers welcomed the opportunity to engage with the India-Australia Joint Business Council and underlined the importance of greater contact between business leaders of the two nations.

Mr. Sharma said India was investing $550 billion on infrastructure projects in the ongoing five-year plan (2007-12). India would commit over $1.7 trillion for infrastructure development in the coming decade, he added.