Australia seeks lower tariffs on wines, to compromise in agriculture, says Tehan

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 02, 2021

Dam Tehan and Piyush Goyal addressing the media in New Delhi on Thursday   -  PTI

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Australia hopes to achieve lower tariffs on wines as a part of the free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated with India, and is ready to “compromise’’ in the areas of dairy and agriculture in recognition of “sensitivities’’, Australian Trade Minister, Dan Tehan, has said.

“I can’t go into the details of the negotiations. What I can say is that there is nothing I would enjoy more than being able to provide India with some of Australia’s fine more affordable prices. That is something that we will be looking to achieve.” Tehan said at an interaction with the media in New Delhi on Friday.

There will also be a separate chapter on e-commerce in the FTA, although its details will be finalised later, the Minister said, adding that he understood that India’s policy on e-commerce was under formulation.

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Interim agreement

Tehan and Commerce & Industry Minister, Piyush Goyal, in their meeting on Thursday, decided to set a target for concluding negotiations for the bilateral FTA, officially known as the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), by the end of 2022, and to have an interim agreement in place by Christmas this year.

The interim agreement will cover a number of areas including goods, services, investment, government procurement, rules of origin, energy resources, and standards, Tehan said. Offers for the interim agreement are to be exchanged by October -end.

India’s import tariffs on wines and spirits is up to 150 per cent, which makes foreign liquor expensive for Indian consumers. A lowering of import tariffs on alcohol as a part of the proposed CECA could lead to increased market access for Australian producers.

“Sensitive sectors”

Answering questions on whether Australia would compromise on its ambitions in the area of agriculture and dairy, as these sectors were sensitive to India, the Minister said that there would certainly be compromises as negotiations were all about that.

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“There has to be win for India as well as Australia...There are many ways we can work together when it comes to agriculture. Of course there are certain sectors where we can improve access. But we also understand that there are sensitivities in India. There might be some areas where we can use investment or technology or services…,” Tehan said.

On Australia’s decision to allow Covishield, the Indian variant of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, as a recognised vaccine for international travellers, the Minister said that he would be happy to see Indian students back.

Published on October 01, 2021

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