India has not made any offer to Australia on lowering duties on agriculture and dairy products as part of the proposed Free Trade Agreements ( FTA), said officials. ” Negotiations have focussed entirely on mutually beneficial items of trade. ET on Jan 5 reported as folows on this subject.
Australia has offered to give tariff concessions to 99% of its traded goods with India under the proposed bilateral free trade agreement in lieu of opening up of India’s dairy and agriculture sectors through low or zero tariffs. Canberra is keen to export dairy products, grains, oilseeds and processed food to India. The two sides intend to complete the talks for an interim deal, called early harvest in trade parlance, by the end of this month.
“Australia has indicated to make their import duties zero on 99% goods at the time of entry into force of the agreement,” said an official.
In FY21, India’s exports to Australia- comprising refined petroleum, medicaments, railway vehicles including hovertrains, pearls and gems, jewellery, and made-up textile articles- were $4.04 billion, while imports were $8.24 billion. Imports included coal, copper ores and concentrates, gold, vegetables, wool, fruits and nuts and lentils.
India’s exports of chemicals, fabrics, apparel, footwear and machine tools, among others could get zero-duty benefits. “Dairy and agriculture are sticking points. An interim package can include products where there is mutual consensus while the contentious issues can be taken up later,” the official said.
Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Monday said that the interim agreement with Australia will cover “large areas of interest particularly our labour oriented sectors like textiles, pharma, footwear, leather products and agricultural products”.
The two sides have agreed to conclude a long-pending FTA called a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement by the end of 2022.
However, industry experts cautioned about opening sensitive sectors like dairy and agriculture as they are huge employers. “Once sensitive sectors like dairy and agriculture are opened for Australia, others like the EU and the UK too will seek market access and make our products uncompetitive,” said an industry representative.
Source : ET Jan 5th and Jan 6th 2022