Talks to fast-track India-Australia trade deal

Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement discussed at virtual meeting between Commerce Minister Goyal, Australian counterpart Dan Tehan

December 23, 2021 05:33 pm | Updated 09:07 pm IST - NEW DELHI

File photo of Union Minister Piyush Goyal.

File photo of Union Minister Piyush Goyal.

Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal on Wednesday held a virtual meeting with his Australian counterpart Dan Tehan to fast-track negotiation regarding the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). Both sides had pledged in September that an “early harvest announcement” for an interim trade deal would be achieved by December and an official press release issued after the virtual discussion revealed that talks are currently on for the interim agreement.

“The Ministers appreciated the progress made in various rounds of talks between the chief negotiators of both sides and discussed the way forward for an early conclusion of interim agreement,” a press release issued by the government said. Mr Tehan had visited India in September when both sides agreed to move towards the final conclusion of CECA.

The CECA also featured in the Australia-India “2+2” ministerial held on September 11 which was attended by Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton with their Indian counterparts S. Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh. Both sides had stated that deepening of bilateral trade is part of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP).

A Joint Statement issued at the end of the “2+2” meeting had informed that an “early harvest announcement” regarding the interim trade deal would be made by December. It is understood that the talks are underway for a “balanced” trade agreement that will make it easy for trade and investment between two sides.

The press release said Mr. Goyal and Mr. Tehan have directed officials to “pave the way for a comprehensive agreement.”

The virtual discussion was the second such exchange that Mr Goyal held on bilateral trade with a foreign country within 24 hours. He held a discussion with his Canadian counterpart Mary NG earlier on Tuesday evening. “Had a great interaction with my Canadian counterpart Mary Ng on boosting trade ties across key sectors between India and Canada,” Mr Goyal had said after the chat on Indo-Canada trade.

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