India-Australia aim for ‘early harvest’ trade pact by December

Accord planned as precursor to a full economic agreement

The trade ministers of India and Australia have agreed to speed up trade negotiations with aim to reach an interim ‘early harvest’ pact by December for liberalising the bilateral flow of goods and services.

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal met Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan, virtually on Thursday to discuss the road map for concluding a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), beginning with the early harvest accord.

The meeting comes within three weeks of a visit to New Delhi by the Australian Prime Minister’s special envoy to India Tony Abbott. Australia views India as a long-standing, valued and trusted partner, Mr. Abbott had asserted in his meetings with Indian ministers, hinting at expeditious approach on Canberra’s part to CECA negotiations.

Three rounds of talks have already been held between the chief trade negotiators of both sides, the ministers said in a joint statement.

‘Pathway to CECA’

“The Ministers noted the importance that negotiations take into account the views of business, industry and other stakeholders, and decided to start consultations on the potential opportunities and impacts of interim agreement as a pathway to a full CECA,” they added.

“The Ministers look forward to a balanced trade agreement that encourages expanded trade and flows to the benefit of both of our economies and peoples,” the ministers said.

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