Canberra [Australia]: India Australia free trade deal (FTA) was ratified by the Australian Parliament this week. The deal is being hailed as an opportunity to boost trade in multiple sectors on both sides.
The signing of the deal which was initially to happen before Diwali, was delayed a bit.
India and Australia are part of a number of alliances such as four-nation QUAD, Trilateral Supply Chain Initiative and the Indo-Pacific Economic Forum (IPEF).
Writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, former Australian senator Lisa Singh said the Australia-India trade deal was more than 10 years in the making, adding the deal will allow the nations to trade goods and services almost tariff-free.
“The scale of Australia’s trade dependency on its biggest trading partner was felt hard, particularly by farmers, when China imposed economic sanctions on USD 20 billion worth of Australian goods,” Singh wrote in the opinion piece titled “Australia just signed its answer to China’s grip on its trade – with unstoppable India.”
Lisa Singh, the first woman of Indian heritage to be elected to federal parliament, said that when compared to the Australia-China trade volume of USD 251 billion, trade between Australia and India worth USD 27.5 billion last year is minuscule. However, the gap only serves to illustrate the huge opportunity seized this week when the Australian Parliament passed a new trade deal with India, she said.
The trade relationship facilitated through ECTA will open a new chapter on India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership between two vibrant economies with shared interests and trade complementarities.
This ratification comes as analysts contend that the deal also signals a green light for Australia to reduce its dependency on China.
Lisa noted how China’s sanctions remain despite the diplomatic freeze ending between both nations, following the meeting between Prime Minister Albanese and President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 Summit.
“That makes India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (Ind-Aus ECTA) even the more important,” Lisa added.
The Australian government has said ECTA is a great opportunity for Australian businesses as it will open up new markets to reach around 1.4 billion consumers in the world’s fastest-growing major economy.
Last week, Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell said that the trade agreement with India presents an enormous opportunity for Australian services companies and professionals accessing the Indian market.
“The quality of this Agreement, in terms of market access and opportunity for Australian businesses, demonstrates India’s commitment to our bilateral economic partnership,” Farrell said.
After the ratification of the trade deal in the Australian Parliament, Union Minister Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday said that duties on 100 per cent tariff lines would be eliminated by Australia under the landmark deal.
He was addressing a press conference on the ECTA following the approval of the Agreement by the Australian Parliament today.
Goyal said that the ECTA would boost several sectors of the economy, especially textiles, gems, jewellery, and pharmaceuticals.
He noted that the Agreement would also open new opportunities for the service sector in India and would immensely benefit students by offering them an opportunity to work in Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will be visiting India in March 2023.