India and Australia will begin the strategically important Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations on Thursday in Canberra, where Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma will hold bilateral talks with Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson.

Mr. Sharma, arrived here on Tuesday, will go to Canberra on Wednesday to hold bilateral trade talks and work out the final formalities for the FTA negotiations. With the multilateral Doha round of free trade talks going on at a slow pace, the focus is now shifting to consolidating bilateral deals.

There is already a demand within Australia that the FTA negotiations should include talks for sale of uranium to India, something which the Australian Government has been blocking demanding that India should first become a signatory to the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty). India is Australia's third-largest export market. Australia is India's 14th-largest market.