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Highest priority to sign FTA with India by year end:Australia

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Reaffirming its commitment to boost bilateral trade with India, Australia today said it accords the "highest priority" to the conclusion of a free trade agreement with with New Delhi by the end of this year.

Pointing out that Australia has inked FTAs with china, Japan and Korea, the country's Minister for trade and investment Andrew Robb said: "Our highest FTA priority is now the conclusion of a bilateral trade deal with India.

"Our leaders, the two Prime Ministers, have committed to concluding this deal by the end of 2015".

The two-way trade between India and Australia stands at a relatively modest USD 15 billion a year compared with USD 150 billion for Australia's two-way trade with China.

Elaborating on the areas of cooperation between the two countries, Robb said: Australia can help India diversify its energy base through the supply of low emission LNG and Uranium.

"As a mining superpower Australia also wants to share the technology, expertise and the capital that will help unlock India's vast mineral resources," he said.

Describing Australia and India as world-renowned agriculture producers, Robb said: "We see India as a major market for our premium products like pulses, wool, dairy and wine. We also want to help Indian producers make investments in technology, storage and logistics that will ensure strong future growth".

The Minister said a delegation from Australia will be in India this week to explore opportunities for cooperation in the dairy sector.

He further said that Australian companies are exited by the opportunities of make in India.

Robb said there exist tremendous opportunities for both sides to enhance cooperation in sectors like IT, education, services and skills development.

"At the moment there are only 450 Australian companies in India, as compared to 11,000 Australian companies in the US. We want to, in the years ahead, see many thousand Australian companies in India," 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.

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.

First Published: Mon, January 12 2015. 14:15 IST