India, Australia to hold 1st round of FTA talks in end-July

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Australia and India are all set to hold the first preliminary round of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations in India by the end of this month, according to Australian High Commissioner to India Peter Varghese. 

"Negotiators are currently doing consultations with the industry, stakeholders and then they will meet at the end of this month in India," Varghese told PTI here during his mid-term consular visit. 

Varghese stressed that though the two sides were not naive about the challenges involved in the proposal, there was a strong expectation that there was something fruitful in store for the two. 

In May this year, Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma met Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson in Canberra, where it was agreed by both sides to start negotiations on a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement. 

India had already given the green signal to negotiate for an FTA with the Australian side following the completion of a feasibility study showing each side would gain more than USD 30 billion over 20 years from lowering barriers. 

Australia's trade with India has been growing rapidly, with exports, dominated by gold and coal, soaring from USD 11.8 billion to USD 20.0 billion in the past two years. 

Trade is heavily in Australia's favour, with imports in the past year of only USD 2.5 billion from India. 

The Australian side has been particularly interested in improving the ability for Australian services firms to operate in India, while Australian farm producers want improved access to Indian meat markets.

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