Australian Parliamentary Committee Recommends Ratification Of Trade Pact With India

Australia is offering zero-duty access to India for about 96.4 per cent of exports. (Representational)

New Delhi:

An Australian parliamentary committee on treaties has recommended to its government to ratify the trade pact with India, which was inked on April 2 this year here.

The India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA) needs ratification by the Australian parliament before its implementation. In India, such pacts are approved by the Union Cabinet.

“The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has recommended the Australian Government ratifies the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA),” according to a release of the Australian Parliament issued on Friday.

Committee Chair Josh Wilson MP said that this ‘early harvest’ agreement with India paves the way for further trade, market access, investment and regulation that requires global cooperation.

The pact also ensures that Australia will not be excluded from improved trade and market access which may arise from agreements India subsequently negotiates with other nations, he said.

“As an interim agreement, however, the AI-ECTA is not as comprehensive in its scope and coverage as other trade agreements and under-achieves in areas of potential and immediate interest to Australia such as, wine, he added.

As Australia moves towards a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, the Committee has noted the importance of improved tariff reductions, greater access to services, and on broader matters like intellectual property, cultural heritage, the environment, and labour rights, Wilson said.

The Committee, it said, however, has expressed concerns regarding the extent and quality of consultation, transparency of negotiations, and lack of independent modelling and analysis of trade agreements.

The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has been appointed by the Commonwealth Parliament to review and report on all treaty actions proposed by the Government before action which binds Australia to the terms of the treaty is taken.

After approval of the pact by the Australian parliament, both sides will implement it from a mutually agreed date.

As per the Australian procedure, after signing of the agreement, the text is tabled in Parliament for 20 sitting days and goes to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties for review before the legislation to implement the agreement is presented to parliament.

The final ratification of the agreement will take place after the implementing legislation has been passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate in Australia.

The agreement, once implemented, will provide duty-free access to the Australian market for over 6,000 broad sectors of India, including textiles, leather, furniture, jewellery and machinery.

Under the pact, Australia is offering zero-duty access to India for about 96.4 per cent of exports (by value) from day one. This covers many products that currently attract 4-5 per cent customs duty in Australia.

Labour-intensive sectors which would gain immensely include textiles and apparel, few agricultural and fish products, leather, footwear, furniture, sports goods, jewellery, machinery, electrical goods and railway wagons.

India’s goods exports stood at $8.3 billion and imports aggregated to $16.75 billion in 2021-22.

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal had earlier stated that the agreement would help in taking bilateral trade from USD 27.5 billion at present to $45-50 billion in the next five years.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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