Road to India–Australia FTA opens; early harvest agreement in next 30 days
Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said that the early harvest agreement "covers a very wide span of issues and in some sense covers most areas of interest that both countries have." He added that a few sensitive issues would remain for the CECA "which we would hope to complete over the next 12 or 18 months after the early harvest gets into operation."
The road to the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between India and Australia seems to be opening. Both countries are looking to finalize an early harvest agreement in the next 30 days.
Under an early harvest agreement, some products are identified for tariff liberalization. Two trading partners significantly reduce or eliminate customs duties on a limited number of goods and relax norms for promoting trade in services. Early harvest agreement is the step preliminary to an FTA.
Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal made the announcement on February 10 during a meeting with Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan, who is here on an official visit to advance talks for the proposed FTA, officially dubbed by both the countries as the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). The two sides have agreed to conclude the long-pending CECA by the end of 2022.
Goyal said there were substantial opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, mining, pharma, renewables, railways, gems and jewellery, tourism, defence, textiles, gaming and edutech.
"I can assure you that you have a very, very strong partnership in the making which will be finalized over the next 30 odd days. That is the kind of aggressive timeline that Minister Tehan and I have set for our teams today. I can assure you that both the teams are going to have sleepless nights in the next 30 days," said Goyal. According to the Commerce Minister, it will be the fastest negotiated FTA that has ever been done by India or by Australia.
Goyal said that the early harvest agreement "covers a very wide span of issues and in some sense covers most areas of interest that both countries have." He added that a few sensitive issues would remain for the CECA "which we would hope to complete over the next 12 or 18 months after the early harvest gets into operation."
Speaking on the occasion, Tehan said, "We want a quick but high-quality agreement.” He added that increasing cooperation in the education sector was beneficial for both sides and they could look at signing mutual recognition agreements for the sector.