Describing the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with India as “complicated”, Australian Trade Minister Steve Ciobo on Wednesday indicated that the deal was now not a top priority for his government in the short term.
“On India, this is a complicated negotiation. Although the original aspiration was to knock it over in 12 months, that hasn’t been possible,” Ciobo told a TV channel in Melbourne.
“We’re now in the process of undertaking a stocktake about where negotiations are at,” he said adding that “so I’ll keep pursuing India, but that’s not our key priority.”
The minister said that the key priority in the short term for the Australian government was to sign a FTA deal with Indonesia and in this term was to focus on what Australia can do with Indonesia.
Ciobo’s comments came two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held bilateral talks with his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China.
The talks for Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) or FTA between the two sides started in 2011 in a bid to boost bilateral trade and investment.
Both sides were expecting to conclude negotiations by December 2015, however, there were differences in areas like duty cut on dairy products and wines.
Several rounds of negotiations have been completed for liberalising trade and services regime, besides removing non-tariff barriers and encouraging investments.