Australia, India in talks to speed up trade deals  

Piyush Goyal, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, held a virtual conference with his Australian counterpart Dan Tehan on Wednesday to expedite negotiations on the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). Both sides promised in September that a “early harvest announcement” for an interim trade agreement would be made by December, and an official press release issued following the virtual discussion indicated that talks for the temporary agreement are presently underway.

According to Indian government’s press release, “the Ministers acknowledged the progress made in various rounds of negotiations between the main negotiators of both sides and addressed the way forward for an early conclusion of interim agreement.” Mr Tehan had visited India in September, and the two countries had agreed to move on with CECA’s finalisation.

The CECA was also discussed at the “2+2” ministerial meeting between Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton, as well as their Indian counterparts S. Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh, which took place on September 11. Both parties have stated that expanding bilateral trade is a key component of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP).

An “early harvest statement” regarding the interim trade pact would be made by December, according to a Joint Statement issued at the end of the “2+2” meeting. According to reports, negotiations are continuing for a “balanced” trade agreement that will facilitate commerce and investment between the two countries.

Mr. Goyal and Mr. Tehan, according to the news statement, have urged staff to “pave the path for a comprehensive agreement.”

Mr Goyal held a virtual chat on bilateral trade with a foreign government for the second time in less than 24 hours. On Tuesday evening, he had a conversation with his Canadian counterpart, Mary NG. Mr Goyal had remarked after the conversation on Indo-Canada trade, “Had a terrific interaction with my Canadian counterpart Mary Ng on strengthening trade links across key sectors between India and Canada.”

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