Australia Gears Up to Modi's November Visit

Published: 16th October 2014 05:24 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th October 2014 05:28 PM   |  A+A-

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MELBOURNE: As Australia prepares to welcome Narendra Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the country in nearly three decades, the two sides are expected to ink deals on several key areas like trade, investment and consolidate their strategic partnership, an expert said today.

Modi is scheduled to visit Australia for the two-day G-20 summit in Brisbane starting November 15. He will be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Australia since late Rajiv Gandhi, who visited the country in 1986.

He will also be the first Indian Prime Minister to address the federal Parliament in Australia.

Modi's visit is a significant one considering that for the first time in nearly three decades an Indian Prime Minister will be visiting Australia, said Amitabh Mattoo, inaugural director of Melbourne-based think tank Australia India Institute (AII).

"The main focus of Modi will be to attract investments into India. Australian businesses and service providers, can look forward to excellent opportunities in India, where pro business policies of the Modi government are expected to accelerate India's economic growth and make substantial addition to the already burgeoning middle class," Mattoo said.

"While the two sides are expected to hasten the negotiations on a virtual free trade agreement, on the security front, they are expected to consolidate their strategic partnership in the Indian Ocean region," he said.

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

Modi's visit will follow an earlier visit by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to India in September, during which the two leaders sealed the historic deal to sell uranium to India.

Apart from the civil nuclear deal, three other pacts were signed during that trip, including - Cooperation in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as also in Water Resources Management and sports.

Mattoo also praised Modi's enthusiastic foreign policy, saying, and “The decision to invite all the heads of states from the neighbourhood to his swearing in ceremony was a political masterstroke."

"Modi followed it with successful visits to Nepal, Bhutan, Japan and the US," he said, adding, "however, Modi's trip to the US and his meeting with President Barack Obama was the most crucial one."

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