Interim trade pact will create confidence to open up more sectors (Australian envoy) | Latest India News

The interim free trade pact signed by India and Australia on April 2 is only a “first step agreement” that will create the confidence to open up more opportunities and the Indian side should get a ” premier access” to Australia’s vast reserves of rare resources. earth’s minerals, Australian High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell said on Monday.

While acknowledging that agriculture continues to be a sensitive issue for both countries, O’Farrell said enhanced economic cooperation in various areas will help build the understanding needed to open up more sectors. India, Australia, Japan and the United States were brought together by the Covid-19 pandemic accentuating some negative trends that existed in the world, he said.

The Australia-India Economic and Trade Cooperation Agreement (ECTA) signed on Saturday is a “first stage agreement” and there is “clearly a lot more that can be done”, O’Farrell told an event hosted by the Australia India Institute. “I am convinced that this agreement will start, at the commercial level, by building the necessary confidence which will open up even more opportunities for our two countries,” he said.

“Agriculture is…sensitive in Australia, it is sensitive in India…Once we start cooperating in areas of our various economic sectors, once people understand that Australian wines are not going to crush Indian wines, that our products are going to be at different price points, then we will see more and more economic cooperation,” he added.

ECTA allows duty-free exports to 100% of India’s tariff lines to the Australian market, benefits labor-intensive sectors and provides greater access to the services space. It includes liberal visa standards for students and professionals, including quotas for Indian chiefs and yoga teachers.

Indian consumers and businesses stand to benefit from the immediate elimination of tariffs on 85% of Australian exports to India, and Australian consumers will benefit from the duty-free entry of up to 96% of Indian exports.

Meanwhile, new initiatives unveiled by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison include measures that will give Indian investment “front tier access” to Australia’s lithium and cobalt reserves and support secure supply chains in the world. ‘Indo-Pacific,’ O’Farrell said.

Rare earth minerals, necessary for clean technologies and electric vehicles, have become a key area of ​​cooperation between the two parties. Australia accounts for more than 55% of global lithium production.

Responding to a question about Chinese ownership of critical mineral reserves in Australia, O’Farrell pointed out that Chinese companies “own nowhere near the majority of critical minerals and rare earth mines in Australia because the vast majority of these mines are not yet developed”. ”. An Indian minister and a delegation from Khanij Bidesh India Ltd (KABIL), which will oversee Indian investments in critical minerals, will soon visit Australia for talks, he said.

On Monday, the Australian government announced a $1.25 billion investment in the refining of critical minerals and rare earths, which will ensure the shipment of refined materials to India through secure supply chains and resilient that both countries want to have, added O’Farrell.

Education continues to be a key pillar of cooperation and there have been 25,000 student arrivals from India since Australia reopened its borders last November. A key outcome of last month’s India-Australia Summit was progress towards a Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement, which will create opportunities for professionals and students to benefit from education markets and employment on both sides.

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