India has raised the issue of pharmaceutical pricing control in Australia, particularly on generic medicines, during a recent bilateral meeting between the officials of the two countries.

The two sides have decided to work closely on timely resolution of market access issues, deepen people-to-people contacts, and create an institutional mechanism for sharing of preferential import data, the commerce ministry said on Saturday.

The bilateral trade between the countries declined 7.7 per cent to $24 billion in 2023-24 as against $26 billion in 2022-23.

These issues among others were discussed during the first Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) in Canberra under India-Australia Economic Co-operation and Trade Agreement (Ind-Aus ECTA).

"Both the sides while acknowledging the smooth implementation of the ECTA, briefly elaborated on ECTA implementation issues including MRAs (mutual recognition agreements) on organic products, market access issues related to products like okra, pomegranate, grapes, cottage cheese...pharmaceutical pricing control in Australia particularly on generics, progress made by the working group on whisky and wine," the ministry said.

The aim was to address regulatory challenges and promote trade of these products, it said adding setting up of disease-free zones for shrimps and prawns in India was also discussed.

It added that the JCM meeting addressed certain critical services issues, including the consideration of India's request for facilitation of cross border e-payments and MRAs in professions like nursing and dentistry.

Discussions were also held at the chief negotiators level between Additional Secretary Rajesh Aggarwal and Assistant Secretary Ravi Kewalram from DFAT under India-Australia CECA (comprehensive economic cooperation agreement) negotiations to review the progress made after nine rounds and the way forward for its completion with a view to reaching at a balanced outcome.

"Australia is an important trading partner of India in the Oceania region with merchandise trade between India and Australia reaching around USD 24 billion in 2023-24, signalling significant potential for further growth," it added.

The meeting serves as a platform to further strengthen trade ties and explore new opportunities for bilateral economic cooperation in areas such as trade facilitation, investment promotion, as well as cooperation in other areas including support for technology.