Abbott to bring 'positive' news on nuclear trade

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:05 pm IST

Published - September 03, 2014 02:17 am IST - NEW DELHI

After disappointment over the delay in announcing a nuclear agreement with Japan, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott is expected to bring good news on the nuclear trade front when he lands in Delhi in Thursday. Sources confirm to The Hindu , that Mr. Abbott will make a “positive announcement” on selling uranium to India, part of a civil nuclear cooperation agreement that has been under negotiation since 2012.

If successful, India would get a share of Australia’s uranium reserves — about one-third of the world’s extractable reserves for its estimated need of about 5,900 tonnes by 2020. In the strongest signal yet, Trade Minister Andrew Robb said India’s nuclear safeguards had "satisfied" Australia. "We have satisfied ourselves that the steps are in place," Mr. Robb told ABC radio in an interview on Tuesday.

The Australian Prime Minister’s visit in September, has been in the offing ever since Mr. Modi was sworn in and had invited Mr. Abbott to visit India. Mr. Abbott has scheduled the visit despite the fact that Mr. Modi will visit Australia for the G-20 summit to “establish India-Australia’s standalone bilateral ties”.

While the uranium agreement will be the key announcement during the visit, both sides will speak about boosting strategic ties in other spheres as well. “When it comes to defence cooperation, intelligence sharing and anti-terror technologies, India and Australia see more eye-to-eye than ever before,” said an official familiar with the negotiations.

Mr. Abbott, who will be accompanied by his Trade Minister and 30 top Australian CEOs, will speak to Mr. Modi about enhancing trade ties including a possible Free Trade Agreement (FTA), given bilateral trade stands at $15.3 billion. A significant rise in Indian investment in Australia has seen companies like Jindal steel and Adani power acquire mines there, as well as Mahindra, who has invested in an aircraft company as well.

However, the two leaders will also have to tackle areas of disagreement, especially India’s decision to hold on signing the WTO agreement as well as the Asean-India FTA, ahead of the G-20 meeting in Brisbane this November.

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