India, Australia ink interim trade deal
India and Australia have signed an interim free trade deal that cuts tariffs on billions of dollars of commerce as the two Quad partners bolster their economic ties.
Both signatories are members of the Quad alliance with the United States and Japan, which is seen as a counterweight to an increasingly assertive China.
The Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement was signed simultaneously in New Delhi and Canberra by India’s commerce minister Piyush Goyal and his Australian counterpart Dan Tehan in a joint ceremony on April 2.
The agreement cuts tariffs on more than 85 percent of Australian exports to India.
India and Australia are “natural partners, connected by shared values of democracy, rule of law and transparency”, Goyal said.
Two-way trade reached around $27.5 billion last year, with resource-rich Australia exporting coal and other commodities, along with sheep meat, and India largely supplying finished goods and services.
The agreement “delivers a clear message that democracies are working together and ensuring the security and resilience of our supply chains”, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at the signing.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi added it would “contribute to increasing supply chain resilience and to the stability of the Indo-Pacific region”.
Negotiations on a comprehensive deal between India and Australia were launched more than a decade ago but stalled in 2015.
A full trade pact is now being negotiated and Morrison, who called Modi a “dear and trusted friend”, said he hoped it would be signed by the end of the year.