India and Australia are on track to conclude a significant early harvest trade agreement before the end of the year, which would likely include market access for Australian wines and improved mobility for working professionals and students, according to Tony Abbott, Special Trade Envoy of the Prime Minister of Australia.
Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Australia’s Trade Minister Dan Teehan had in October officially launched negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries, aimed at concluding an early harvest agreement by the end of 2021 and a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement by 2022.
“Based on the discussions that I’ve had last night with minister Goyal and with senior members of his team, I am confident, (and) they are confident that we can do a very good early harvest deal which is larger rather than smaller by the end of the year, or at the very least, very early in the new year,” Abbott said. Early harvest agreements are used to liberalise tariffs on the trade of certain goods between two countries or trading blocs before a comprehensive FTA is concluded.
Abbott noted that the early harvest agreement was likely to deal with granting increased market access to Australian wines as well as help “enhance mobility” between the two countries. Easing of travel for India professionals has been a consistent demand by India in negotiations with western countries including Australia, the UK and the US.
He added that Australia was aware that the prevalence of small scale farming in India and related “sensitivities” would inevitably lead to carve outs for elements of Indian agriculture in an FTA.
India and Australia had in 2011 launched FTA talks in 2011which were subsumed into negotiations under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations between ASEAN countries.