Australia is seeking additional market access from India for its goods, primarily iron ore varieties. The market access sought is in addition to what has already been granted under the India - Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA).

The Department of Commerce, in a letter to the Steel Ministry, has sought the (steel) Ministry’s opinion on opening up “additional lines” dealing with various grades of iron-ore.

Australia reportedly has amongst the largest iron ore reserves globally.

Most iron ore shipments from Australia are currently under the exclusion list. 

Three rounds of India-Australia CECA negotiations have already taken place in 2023. 

“During these rounds, Australia has sought additional market access for goods (in addition to the market access already granted under India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement,” the letter to the Steel Ministry from the Department of Commerce, and accessed by businessline, states. 

The letter said during the most recent India-Australia CECA round (third) of negotiations held in June 2023, “the Australian side confirmed its enhanced Market Access request list. Also, the Australian side has sought to understand the sensitivities of India with respect to each of these product lines.”

Two lists have reportedly been sent to the Steel Ministry.

One contains the list of tariff lines of Australia’s interest, which have been kept in the exclusion list under the India-Australia ECTA, and for which no mandate was given by the Steel Ministry. This includes items such as iron-ore having iron (Fe) content of varying degrees, like iron ore with Fe content between 60 and 62 per cent; iron ore with FE content below 55 per cent; iron ore pellets; iron ore concentrates; and so on. Most of the items on the list are neither imported from Australia nor exported there.

The second list contains tariff lines of Australia’s interest, which have been kept in the exclusion list under the India-Australia ECTA “but mandate for tariff liberalisation has already been obtained from the concerned line Ministries. Items here include empty or discharged cartridges of all bores and sizes, among others.

“....if your ministry could examine the request from Australia for market access for the enclosed tariff lines under the ongoing CECA negotiations and provide suggested tariff liberalisation. Further, it is requested to also provide a rationale explaining the current stance (if exclusion continues to remain the stance. Sensitivities of India could be highlighted in detail.),” the letter from the Department of Commerce mentions.