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India and Australia Enter Negotiations for Bilateral Free Trade Agreement

On May 12, 2011, Trade Minister Craig Emerson and the Indian Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma formally launched negotiations for the Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). The Agreement, once concluded, would reduce tariff barriers on goods and expand the trade in services between India and Australia.

India is already Australia’s third largest export market, after China and Japan, with almost 8% of Australia’s exports (mainly mineral resources) going to India.

Of note in these negotiations is that ministers from both countries acknowledged the critical role of the private sector in the ultimate success of CECA. Ministers welcomed progress made in both countries towards establishment of a CEO Forum, where business leaders could discuss the interests, perspectives and priorities of industry in their respective countries. The CEO Forum was formally launched with Mr Naveen Jindal as co-chair on the Indian side and Mr Lindsay Fox as co-chair on the Australian side. Their first official meeting will take place sometime in 2011.

DFAT is seeking submissions from industry to better understand the existing barriers to Australian exports, challenges of accessing the Indian market, how tariffs impact access to the Indian market, and whether Australian industry would like to see certain sectors of the Indian market liberalised. Guidance for preparing submissions can be found here.

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