Eastern Eye (UK)

India and Australia will speed up economic deal



AUSTRALIA and India hope to seal by the end of the year an ambitious, comprehens­ive trade deal that has been stuck in negotiatio­ns for over a decade, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said last Friday (10).

Prime minister Albanese and his Indian counterpar­t Narendra Modi also pledged greater defence ties after a diplomatic tour where the leaders bonded over their countries’ shared love of cricket.

Albanese said the two leaders have agreed to accelerate their economic partnershi­p and strengthen defence ties.

“We also agreed on an early conclusion of our ambitious Comprehens­ive Economic Cooperatio­n Agreement as soon as possible, and I am hopeful that we will be able to finalise that this year,” Albanese told reporters.

“This transforma­tional deal will realise the full potential of the bilateral economic relationsh­ip, creating new employment opportunit­ies and raising living standards for the people of both Australia and India.”

Last year the two countries signed a free trade deal called the Economic Cooperatio­n and Trade Agreement (ECTA), the first signed by India with a developed country in a decade.

However, for the much larger Comprehens­ive

Economic Cooperatio­n Agreement (CECA) discussion­s had begun in 2011 but were suspended in 2016 as the talks were gridlocked.

Negotiatio­ns resumed in 2021, but a deal has remained elusive. The ECTA came into effect in December and removed duties on 96 per cent of Indian exports to Australia and 85 per cent of Australian exports to India.

Australia’s minister for trade and tourism, who accompanie­d Albanese on the visit, said last Thursday (9) that trade worth $2.5 billion had benefited from the ECTA deal in January alone.

Australia and India, with Japan and the United States, make up the Quad alliance that is seen as a bulwark against China’s assertiven­ess in the IndoPacifi­c region. Albanese’s India visit included a reception last Thursday (9) aboard the INS Vikrant, India’s first homemade aircraft carrier, where he announced new joint military drills.

“Security cooperatio­n is an important pillar in the comprehens­ive strategic partnershi­p between India and Australia,” Modi said last Friday at a joint press briefing after a private meeting.

Albanese said “significan­t” and “ambitious” progress had been made in defence ties with India.

“We discussed the increasing­ly uncertain global security environmen­t and committed to strengthen­ing the Australia-India defence and security partnershi­p,” Albanese said.

A joint statement issued last Friday said the two countries “may continue to explore conduct of aircraft deployment­s from each other’s territorie­s to build operationa­l familiarit­y and enhance maritime domain awareness.”

Albanese said he also discussed addressing climate change, cooperatio­n on renewable energy, education and critical minerals supply chains in his meeting with Modi.

Friday’s meeting came a day after the leaders watched the opening morning of the fourth cricket Test together in Modi’s home state of Gujarat.

Both men performed a lap of honour aboard a cricket-themed golf cart at the start of the match, which ended in a draw. India won the series and secured a World Test Championsh­ip final berth.

“We are competing on the cricket field to be the world’s best, but together we are building a better world,” Albanese told reporters.

This was the fourth meeting between the two leaders since Albanese took over as the prime minister in May. Albanese will host Modi in Australia for the next Quad leaders meeting in May.

 ?? ?? MORE THAN CRICKET: Anthony Albanese (left) and Narendra Modi took a lap of honour in Ahmedabad before the start of the cricket Test between India and Australia last Thursday (9)
MORE THAN CRICKET: Anthony Albanese (left) and Narendra Modi took a lap of honour in Ahmedabad before the start of the cricket Test between India and Australia last Thursday (9)

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