Australia has said that it was having a “good look” at the situation with respect to the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India, days after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to the country. Earlier this month, the FTA issue emerged during the first official visit of Turnbull to India where he met his counterpart Narendra Modi. The two leaders confirmed that the progress on the proposed deal has been very slow and asked chief negotiators from the two sides to meet and reinvigorate the talks on the long stalled deal. Last year, Australian trade minister Steve Ciobo announced that a stocktake of issues surrounded the deal.
Yesterday, the trade minister said “We’re having a good look at the situation with respect to India. Certainly, what India’s asking goes well beyond anything that Australia has done, in terms of any FTAs that we have put in place, and we’re not willing to go to that extent.” The trade minister said that he wanted to have a look at what it was that India was offering with respect to goods exports. “From my perspective, I want to make sure that Australia’s national interest is well served, which means doing a deal that’s good for Australia and not just doing a deal to get one over the line, if it’s not serving our national interest well,” Ciobo said. The issues of tariffs and labour mobility have been areas of concern between the two sides.
Meanwhile, Ciobo who left for Japan today has expressed his trip would build on free trade deals with Asian neigbour and promote Australian food, beverage, financial services and health sector. The talks for Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) or FTA between the two sides started in 2011 in a bid to boost bilateral trade and investment. Both sides were expecting to conclude negotiations by December 2015, however, there were differences in areas like duty cut on dairy products and wines. Several rounds of negotiations have been completed for liberalising trade and services regime, besides removing non- tariff barriers and encouraging investments.