Australia on Monday said that concluding a free trade agreement (FTA) with India by the end of the current year would be its top priority.
“Our leaders, the two Prime Ministers, have committed to concluding this deal by the end of 2015 … Our highest FTA priority is now the conclusion of a bilateral trade deal with India,” Australian trade and investment minister Andrew Robb told reporters here.
The two-way trade between the two nations stood at a mere $15 billion a year compared with $150 billion for Australia’s two-way trade with China. Australia has already entered into FTA with China, Japan and Korea. The talks for the FTA between the two countries had started in 2011 and since then several rounds of negotiations have taken place on further liberalising and broadening the base of merchandise trade, removing non-tariff barriers and encouraging investments.
Robb is leading Australia’s largest-ever trade mission to New Delhi, comprising 450 delegates, for the Australia Business Week from January 9-16. The Australian government also launched a pilot programme for Indian businessmen and tourists to apply online for travel to the country.
The programme covers online lodgement of subclass 600 visas for Indian business and tourism visitors and will be rolled out through selected travel agents across India.
‘Rs50 lakh cr investment needed for 7% growth’
Gandhinagar: Underlining the huge requirement of investments, financial services secretary Hasmukh Adhia on Monday said that it is essential to raise the savings to GDP ratio in the country from the current 30 per cent to 35 per cent.
“But the challenge is how to do it,” he said, adding that options such as developing the corporate bond market, specialised instruments for financing infrastructure projects and rationalising norms for investments by pension and insurance funds can be examined. “Over $800 billion or Rs 50 lakh crore worth of investments are required every year to achieve 7 per cent growth. But at present, investments is just about $70 billion,” Adhia said at the Invest in India Summit at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit.