The free trade deal expected to be signed between India and Australia this year would be mutually beneficial and open up various sectors to further boost the current bilateral trade of $15 billion, Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb said.
“It’s an investment opportunity into Australia. We want this to be two-way investment and two-way trade,” said Robb. Australia which has recently concluded FTAs with other Asian nations like Japan, Korea and China, is also expected to conclude the forthcoming deal with India by end of this year.
The two nations first agreed to undertake a feasibility study in 2008 and since then have had five rounds of talks for India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.
Robb said there was a lot of optimism or commitment on the Indian side for concluding the FTA. He had earlier said the two nations may conclude the FTA by the end of this year.
“We want their capital, to help us develop our resources and energy, and all of those sorts of issues are in the mix.” India is the 10th largest trading partner of Australia with a two-way trade of $15 billion, about one-fifth of the India-China trade.
Robb said if Australia can strike the right liberalising agreement, there would be a prospect of bridging that gap. “A lot of their motivation, as it was with China, is to get access to the services that we have got, the world class services that we have got across so many fronts; anything to do with education, anything do to with health, construction, project management, engineering, anything to do with finance, anything to do with aged care,” he said.
“And they are looking to liberalise and we are looking for them to liberalise too, the access and opportunities for our firms to go and invest and participate and grow their business,” said Robb, who led a trade mission of more than 450 delegates to India last week.
On the India trip, Robb said the response “from the delegates has been enthusiastic, so it’s really a case of the liberalisation giving both countries opportunities.”
“They have got a lot of expertise in India – especially in IT and other areas – which we can benefit from.” On how well was Australia placed to assist India’s agriculture needs, he said: “India and China far outstrip us in the production of just about every product. Where we are really good, is we have got a productivity level, we have got research and development, we have got genetics, we have got a quality of livestock and crop management and all of the rest, which is also available, to increase the productivity in India.”
“In many respects the contribution we can make in agriculture certainly is to try and meet the premium end of the market; the demands of the growing middle class.”