India, Australia walk the talk, bridge gap on free trade agreement issues

India and Australia are moving towards concluding negotiations for a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) by the end of this year, with both sides narrowing their differences on major issues.

Australia is pushing for tariff reduction in dairy, fresh fruit, pharma, meats and wines. On the other hand, India wants zero duty on auto parts, textiles, and fresh fruits, including mangoes.

“Differences are getting narrowed on these issues. Eight rounds have already been completed. The next round is expected at the level of trade ministers. Both sides are hopeful that negotiations will be concluded by the year end,” sources said.

India is considering the Australian demand to cut duties on high-end dairy products and wines, they said, adding that India may get mineral resources like iron ore at concessional rates.

Indian dairy industry, on the other hand, has strongly opposed any kind of duty concessions.

“We have already submitted to the Commerce Ministry that we are against giving any duty concessions to any of the countries dominant in the dairy sector. In India, millions of small and marginal farmers are engaged in dairy business and they cannot compete with rich countries,” GCMMF Managing Director R S Sodhi told.

Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) sells milk under the Amul brand.

An official said Indian dairy industry should not be worried about the Australian products.

“This is the right time when Indian industry should come out in the global market and compete with big brands. There are no issues if India gives duty concessions on high-end dairy products,” the official added.

Both the countries are also pushing for relaxations in the services sector. While Australia wants liberalisation in the financial services sector, India is seeking freer movement of its professionals, particularly in the IT sector.

Finalisation of the FTA with India by the end of this year is the number one priority of Australia, its Trade Minister Andrew Robb has recently said.

India and Australia have set a target of concluding the the proposed free trade pact, officially dubbed as the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement ( CECA), by the end of this year.

The bilateral trade stood at USD 13 billion in 2014-15 as against USD 12.12 billion in the previous fiscal.

Source: Economic Times

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One Response to “India, Australia walk the talk, bridge gap on free trade agreement issues”

  1. Jeff Mazzini Says:

    Reblogged this on AAMC Training's Blog.

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