Narendra Modi meets Australian special envoy on Free Trade

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, on August 6, 2021.

Highlights

  • Both the leaders addressed measures to strengthen bilateral trade, investment, and economic cooperation with the objective of realising full potential of India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
  • They underlined that, improved economic cooperation between India and Australia will help both countries to address economic problems posed by Covid-19 pandemic.
  • They also noted their mutual vision of stable, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
  • PM Modi also recalled his virtual summit of 2020 with Prime Minister Morrison and expressed his desire to host Australian PM in India.

Background

Bilateral relationship between India and Australia was raised to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership at a virtual summit between PM Modi and Morrison held on June 4, 2020. During the meeting, India and Australia agreed to promote expanded trade and investment flows for mutual benefit. They also agreed to re-engage on a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)

Negotiations for a CECA between India and Australia started in 2001 and it was finally materialised in 2020. With the CECA, India now has a better access to world’s 12th largest economy. Earlier, Half of India’s exports to Australia face stiff tariffs.  With CECA, Indian businesses have come into same footing as other Free Trade Agreement partners of Australia like China. This agreement is helping India to improve investments from Australia.

Why CECA was a deadlock?

CECA negotiation was agreed after decades because, India was having several concerns. India was opposing the greater access for Australian businesses in dairy sectors and agricultural markets to save the interests of its small and marginal farmers. India wanted a greater free movement and relaxed visa norms for IT professionals that Australia was reluctant to agree to citing unemployment as major reason. Both countries were also having different views on their preference towards Rules of Origin (ROO) while fixing tariff lines.

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