Fourth round of India-Australia FTA talks likely in August

To fast-track talks for the proposed free trade agreement (FTA), India and Australia are expected to hold the fourth round of negotiations by the end of August, an Australian envoy said today.

"I think towards the end of August it (the fourth round of talks) should happen. That's what we are hoping for," Australian High Commissioners Peter N Vergese told reporters here on the sidelines of a PHD Chamber of Commerce event.

The FTA negotiations, which started last year, are still at early stage and the two countries have not yet exchanged the first list of goods and services that are to be exempted from duties and are to be liberalised.

"We have not set ourselves any deadline. Obviously, we would like it to happen as early as possible but until we get down to tabling of offers, it's bit difficult to guess. My description would be that it is early days and only at preliminary stage," Vergese added.

According to a feasibility study conducted by both the countries jointly, the comprehensive FTA is likely to result in India gaining between 0.15 and 1.14 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP), while Australia would end up with the gains between 0.23 and 1.17 per cent of its GDP.

At present, India is Australia's third largest export market and bilateral trade between the countries stands at about $ 22 billion.

The two countries have set the target to increase it to $ 40 billion by 2016.

India has comprehensive FTAs with Japan, Malaysia and South Korea and it is negotiating similar agreements with many countries, including Australia.

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