Feasibility study for India-Australia free trade pact done


Kolkata : Australia and India have completed a joint feasibility study for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries, Australian High Commissioner Peter N. Varghese said Saturday. The study has identified a boost of $30 million for each of the two economies from the pact.

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“We are looking at the possibilities of launching a free trade agreement with India. We have just concluded the feasibility study. It has identified a boost of $30 million for each of our economies,” Varghese told a media meet.

The high commissioner was here to inaugurate the office of the Australian Trade Commission in the city.

“We are in the process of securing cabinet decision (about the FTA) on each side. A decision in this regard would be taken maybe by the end of this year,” Varghese said.

The high commissioner met West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and evinced interest in sectors like food processing and packaging.

“We have shown interest in the agriculture sector. We have talked about Australia’s possibility of imparting technology in food processing and packaging sectors,” Varghese said.

Australia is in talks with 20 agricultural companies across India, he said.

The bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $22 billion in 2009, which is a growth of 20-22 percent.

The major commodities exported from Australia to India are coal, gold and copper. But the country wants to diversify into other sectors now.

Varghese also said: “We are poised now for substantial Indian investment in Australia.”

Talking about the tourism sector, he said: “We would like to see more growth in this sector. There are around one lakh tourists moving in each direction. There is quite a bit of scope to increase that.”

He said a Delhi-Melbourne Air India flight would be introduced in November.