AFTINET warns of risks of rushing through India-Australia trade deal on ABC Radio National

22 March 2022: Ahead of a long-anticipated interim trade agreement between Australia and India, AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald has warned of the risks of rushing through an ‘early harvest’ agreement on ABC Radio National Drive. The predicted agreement was not announced at the meeting yesterday between Prime Ministers Morrison and Modi.

Dr Ranald warned that “early harvest agreements really mean that they are trying to cobble something together that they can easily agree with. If it is an early harvest agreement, it may not be terribly significant in trade terms.”

“It would be a mistake to rush into an early harvest agreement just to get something done before the election. It would be far preferable to take the time to see if there really is genuine agreement about these issues, and about whether economies and societies will benefit from such an agreement.”

“There is a problem with the secrecy of Australia’s trade negotiations, as we don’t see the full details until after the agreement is signed. What we should have is an arrangement where governments take the time to carefully negotiate something, which should then be subjected to independent evaluation of its costs and benefits, and then only after that should the signing and ratification process proceed.”

With India expected to seek an expansion of temporary migration to Australia, Dr Ranald raised the alarm on the potential for exploitation of workers and students: “it is preferable to have separate government-to-government agreements about [temporary migration], because they are vulnerable to exploitation. If you have a separate agreement, you can have some safeguards.

  • This interview is not available on ABC Listen App, however a recording can be downloaded here.