India, Australia agree on terms for free trade study

April 11th, 2008 - 3:18 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Sydney, April 11 (IANS) Tariff liberalisation will be in focus as Australia and India Friday agreed on the terms of reference for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) feasibility study to be completed by early next year. Announcing this, Australian Minister for Trade Simon Crean said: “The study will consider how an FTA might help take the economic partnership to a stronger level.”

Bilateral trade has been increasing with India now Australia’s sixth largest and fastest growing export market.

Crean said: “I am pleased that India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has personally approved the terms of reference. Given the complementary nature of our economies in so many areas this is an exciting prospect.”

Australian and Indian officials are scheduled to hold their first meeting in New Delhi next week. A key focus of the study will be tariff liberalisation and the removal of other impediments to the trade in goods.

Crean said: “The FTA study will consider the feasibility of a comprehensive World Trade Organisation-consistent agreement covering trade in goods, services and investment.

“High quality FTAs can bring considerable economic benefits through jobs created by increased trade and investment and by bringing forward the pace of growth-enhancing economic reform,” Crean added.

In relation to services, the study will consider the scope for broad sectoral liberalisation including mutual recognition agreements and the movement of business personnel.

The study will also consider other key issues such as intellectual property rights, competition policy, government procurement, sanitary and phytosanitary issues, and technical barriers to trade.

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