India, Australia looking to finalise early harvest agreement in next 30 days: Piyush Goyal

India and Australia are looking to finalise an early harvest agreement in the next 30 days and this pact is likely to cover most areas of interest that both the countries have, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said.

Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan is here on an official visit to advance talks for the proposed free trade agreement, officially dubbed as the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

The two sides have agreed to conclude the long-pending CECA by the end of 2022. Under an early harvest agreement, two trading partners significantly reduce or eliminate customs duties on a limited number of goods and relax norms for promoting trade in services. CECA includes expanding the scope of the early harvest pact.

Goyal said that it will be the fastest negotiated FTA that has ever been done by India or by Australia.

Early harvest agreement “covers a very wide span of issues and in some sense covers most areas of interest that both countries have,” he said adding few sensitive issues would remain for the CECA, “which we would hope to complete over the next 12 or 18 months after the early harvest gets into operation”.

Goyal further said there are substantial opportunities in different sectors such as mining, pharma, education, renewables, railways, gems and jewellery, tourism, defence, textiles, gaming, agriculture and edutech. The bilateral trade between the nations stood at USD 12.3 billion in 2020-21, as against USD 12.63 billion in 2019-20. India’s main exports to Australia are refined petroleum, medicaments, railway vehicles including hover-trains, pearls and gems, jewellery, made up textile articles, while major imports are coal, copper ores and concentrates, gold, vegetables, wool and other animal hair, fruits and nuts, lentils and education-related services.

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