Australia parliament ratify trade pact with India: Anthony Albanese

Australia’s Parliament passed bilateral free trade agreement with India. The deals are crucial for Australia to diversify its exports from the troubled Chinese market to India and to forge new bilateral trade relations.The bills easily passed the House of Representatives on Monday and the Senate made them law on Tuesday.

“Our Free Trade Agreement with India has passed through parliament,” tweets Australian PM Anthony Albanese.

Trade Minister Don Farrell said India had demonstrated its commitment to the bilateral economic partnership through the quality of the deal struck. “Closer economic ties with India are a critical component of the government’s trade diversification strategy,” Farrell said.

The pact also ensures that Australia will not be excluded from improved trade and market access which may arise from agreements India subsequently negotiates with other nations, he said.

“As an interim agreement, however, the AI-ECTA is not as comprehensive in its scope and coverage as other trade agreements and under-achieves in areas of potential and immediate interest to Australia such as, wine, he added.

As Australia moves towards a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, the Committee has noted the importance of improved tariff reductions, greater access to services, and on broader matters like intellectual property, cultural heritage, the environment, and labour rights, Wilson said.

The Committee, it said, however, has expressed concerns regarding the extent and quality of consultation, transparency of negotiations, and lack of independent modelling and analysis of trade agreements.

The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has been appointed by the Commonwealth Parliament to review and report on all treaty actions proposed by the Government before action which binds Australia to the terms of the treaty is taken.

The agreement, once implemented, will provide duty-free access to the Australian market for over 6,000 broad sectors of India, including textiles, leather, furniture, jewellery and machinery.

Under the pact, Australia is offering zero-duty access to India for about 96.4 per cent of exports (by value) from day one. This covers many products that currently attract 4-5 per cent customs duty in Australia.

Labour-intensive sectors which would gain immensely include textiles and apparel, few agricultural and fish products, leather, footwear, furniture, sports goods, jewellery, machinery, electrical goods and railway wagons.

India’s goods exports stood at USD 8.3 billion and imports aggregated to USD 16.75 billion in 2021-22.

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal had earlier stated that the agreement would help in taking bilateral trade from USD 27.5 billion at present to USD 45-50 billion in the next five years.

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