Australia wants e-comm in trade pact, willing to wait

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2018

Australian Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb flanked by India-Austalia CEO Forum co-chair Gautam Adani and Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh at the Forum’s meeting in New Delhil on Tuesday - Photo: Kamal Narang

Services and investments will be principal focus of CECA: Trade Minister Robb

Australia is keen to include the e-commerce sector in the comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA) being negotiated with India, but may not insist on immediate commitments.

“This is the 21st Century. It (the IT sector, including e-commerce) is what is driving the opportunities.

“We would want to get some rules around that. But that doesn’t mean that it cannot happen in stages,” Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb said while addressing the media here on Tuesday.

He added a decision on the matter was yet to be taken.

Robb said that in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) being negotiated between 12 members including the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico and Malaysia, a section on e-commerce has been included, mentioning basic rules.

It has been decided to build on those rules at a later stage.

Deadline nearing

On the feasibility of the year-end deadline for concluding the India-Australia CECA, Robb said that it was the country’s top trade priority.

“There is no time to be lost. Our negotiating team will come to India as often as required. It is our number one trade priority,” he said .

Robb is in India with top CEOs from his country for the India-Australia CEO forum. The CEO forum is headed by Gautam Adani, chairman, Adani Group, and Sam Welsh, Chief Executive, Rio Tinto Group. This is the minister’s fourth visit to India since September last year. While liberalising trade in goods will be an important part of the CECA being negotiated, the Australian Minister said that the principal focus will be on services and investment. He said that the Australian services sector was looking at opportunities to invest in India in a number of areas.

These include engineering, health services, education, contracting, construction, architecture, design and agriculture.

Call for faster processes

Members of the CEO forum focussed on the importance of speeding up the investment approval processes in both India and Australia.

They said that there were opportunities for significant reduction in tariffs that could boost bilateral trade and investment.

India is Australia’s 12th-largest trading partner, with a two-way trade of $13 billion in 2014-15.

Published on June 23, 2015

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