Talks on India-Aus FTA may conclude by 2016: Abbott

Tags: News
Seeking to increase trade and investment with India, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott today expressed hope that negotiations for proposed free trade agreement between the countries will be concluded by 2016.

"Australia is open for business. Both India and Australia want to boost two-way trade and investment and I hope that the comprehensive economic partnership agreement negotiations between our two countries will be concluded, at the latest, by the end of 2016," Abbott said.

He was addressing Indian industry leaders at a luncheon meeting organised by industry chambers. He asked the Australian businesses to increase investments in India.

The talks for a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA) also known as free trade agreement (FTA) between India and Australia were started in 2011.

So far several rounds of negotiations have been completed for further liberalising and broadening the base of merchandise trade, removing non-tariff barriers and encouraging investments.

The two-way trade between Australia and India was only $15 billion (2012-13) and Indian investment in Australia is well under $20 billion, "and the less said about Australian investment in India the better," he said.

"Trade and investment is substantial but it's not what it should be given our countries' level of comfort with each other, our comparative proximity and the complementarity between our economies," he added.

On visa, the Australian Prime Minister said that his government is streamlining student and working visa arrangements to make it easier for Indians to study and to work in Australia.

Further Abbott said soon an Indian would start coal mining in Australia.

"If all goes to plan, next year, an Indian company will begin Australia’s largest ever coal development which will light the lives of 100 million Indians for the next half century," he said.

Appreciating India's growth story, he said India would soon make its mark in the wider world.

"For most of the past three decades it’s grown at more than 5 per cent a year and, in purchasing power terms, it’s already the world’s third largest economy. In short, India is the world’s emerging democratic superpower ... We both need to be more ambitious," he said.

He said in India hundreds of millions of people are moving from poverty into the middle class; as successive governments have dismantled regulatory shackles and unleashed the flair and the drive that's so obvious in the Indian diaspora.

"I salute India's achievement. India has proven that economic transformation is quite compatible with robust free speech, independent courts, and democratic checks and balances on government," the Prime Minister said.

He said the purpose of this visit is to remind Australians that "never" neglect any of the emerging Asian great powers and to reassure Indians.

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