Indo-Australia FTA on Track to be Sealed by Year End: Minister
MELNOURNE: The Indo-Australia free trade agreement is on track to be sealed by the end of the year but "issues" in India could impact plans for realising the deal, Trade Minister Andrew Robb has said.
The minister's latest remark came at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to meet his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull and discuss the trade pact on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Turkey today.
The trade pact is likely to dominate talks between both the leaders who last night announced the completion of all the formalities for India-Australia Civil Nuclear Agreement.
Robb, buoyed by the reassurances he has received during his visits to India throughout the year, said Australia was on track to finalise the Free Trade Agreement by year end.
"We have got a programme which will see us complete it... and with India in particular they have lots of other issues that can interfere with our programme. But at the moment we are still on track to complete a Free Trade Agreement by the end of the year," Robb said as he did not elaborate what issues he was referring to.
According to Australian Associated Press news agency, Robb said that Modi was keen to access Australian expertise to help India realise its full potential.
"He (Modi) said to me at the outset... what he wants from
Australia is access to our expertise to help India realise its full potential," Robb said in Manila last night.
The minister said Australia would benefit greatly from a pact with one of its fastest growing markets for goods and services. However issues in India could impact on Australia's plans on realising the deal.
Robb hoped that both the leaders emerge from the meeting with a confirmation of the intent to sign the deal. He made his fourth visit to India in October this year in a bid to finalise the bilateral Free Trade Agreement.
He had said that the two sides had made some good progress in recent months in advancing mutual aim of concluding Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement negotiations.
"We are striving for a high quality agreement that will promote increased trade in goods and services as well as investment flows between our two countries. This will help support growth and innovation and importantly create new jobs opportunities for Australia," Robb had said, adding that India presented some enormous prospects for Australian exporters on account of a market of 1.2 billion people.