Union commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal with Australian counterpart Dan Tehan
New Delhi: Australia and India hope to reach a long-pending landmark trade deal by the end of 2022, according to a joint statement released on Friday announcing the formal relaunch of stalled negotiations.
Bilateral trade was around Aus$24 billion (US$17 billion) last year, with India exporting is key services sector and Australian coal going the other way.
Both are members of the Quad alliance with the United States and Japan, and are looking to deepen strategic ties to counter China as well as economically and in other areas.
Following trade ministers’ talks in New Delhi, the two countries backed the “expeditious negotiation” of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.
In the meantime they plan to reach an “early harvest” interim deal by the end this year under which some duties will already be cut.
The two sides hope for a “balanced trade agreement that encourages expanded trade and investment flows to the benefit of both of our economies, and that reflects a shared commitment to the rules-based international trading system”, the statement said.
India was Australia’s seventh-largest trading partner and sixth-largest export market in 2020.
Negotiations on a comprehensive deal between India and Australia were launched more than a decade ago but stalled in 2015.
In recent months New Delhi has also sought to revive trade talks with other countries including the United States, the European Union and Britain.
Indian media quoted Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan as saying that trade could double in the coming years if the comprehensive accord is sewn up.
“And it will double in all areas because the complementarity between our economies is so great,” Tehan was quoted as telling a news conference in India on Thursday.
Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said the two nations “have a very positive interest in expanding trade, which could be kick-started or which could be implemented in the interim, while the contours of the final agreement may take a little longer period of time”.
Using a cricket analogy, he added: “This is like a T-20 match, that is why (there are) such aggressive timelines.
“The spirit of this partnership is that both India and Australia work in the same team for a win-win for each other.”