India-Aus FTA talks: 4th round soon

The fourth round of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations between India and Australia is expected to be held in November this year, in New Delhi, a top official has said.

"We had three rounds of negotiations and would have the fourth round in November in New Delhi," Australian High Commissioner in India Peter Varghese said.

In May last year, the two countries had launched the negotiations for comprehensive market opening pact.

But the negotiations are still at an early stage and India and Australia have not yet exchanged the first list of goods and services that are to be exempted from duties and are to be liberalised.

"These three rounds had been preliminary discussions. In the fourth round, both the governments are likely to put offers on the table. That's when the serious negotiations will take place," Varghese said.

At the moment, both the countries have a list of issues they would like to see addressed, he added.

According to a joint feasibility study conducted by both the countries, the comprehensive FTA is likely to result in India gaining an additional 0.15-1.14 per cent to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while Australia would end up with the

gains between 0.23 per cent and 1.17 per cent to its GDP.

India has comprehensive FTAs with many other countries such as Japan, Malaysia and South Korea and it is negotiating similar agreements with more nations, including New Zealand.

Besides, Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and his Australian counterpart Craig Emerson last year had agreed to work towards doubling the bilateral trade to USD 40 billion by 2016.

Varghese said: "If we succeed in concluding the FTA, I think it will be a big boost for the trade".

At present, the bilateral trade between the two countries stands at about USD 22 billion.

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