India/Australia FTA

Interim Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AIECTA) and Comprehensive Agreement

In November 2019, following both civil society and local business protests, India left the RCEP negotiations

AFTINET submission to DFAT on the India - Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement

January 25, 2023: The India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (AI-CECA) negotiations began  in late January 2023 . The interim agreement, which was negotiated by the previous government, mainly dealt with trade in goods and services, and movement of temporary workers. The comprehensive negotiations will deal with issues like labour rights, environmental standards, digital trade, intellectual property and government procurement.

The AFTINET submission to DFAT negotiators is here. 

AFTINET submission to the JSCOT review of the interim Australia-India Economic Cooperation Agreement

August 19, 2022: The interim IACEPA was negotiated under the previous government in haste and without consultation with civil society organisations.. Some of its provisions are not consistent with the current government’s policy. The interim agreement contains only 14 chapters out of a possible 20 or 30 chapters and commits to negotiations for a comprehensive agreement which would include further chapters.

AFTINET's  submission recommends that those provisions in the interim agreement on industry policy, trade in services and temporary movement of natural people and which are inconsistent with government policy be removed before ratification.

Australia-India Interim Economic Cooperation Agreement submissions due August 19

August 8, 2022: Labor has a policy for a more transparent public and parliamentary process for future trade agreements. See our critique of the current process here and Labor policy here.

However the government  is proceeding with the  very limited Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) review process for the Indian and UK agreements which were signed by the previous government before the election. AFTINET will raise the process issues in our submission.

India asks 68 countries to renegotiate ISDS in bilateral investment treaties

March 21, 2023: The Times of India has reported that India issued termination notices to 68 countries for Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) with a request to renegotiate on the basis of the model agreement formulated in 2015.

These 68 BITs were based on a 1993 model which had been amended in 2003. Alarmed at actions taken against it using the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision in these BITs, the Indian government developed a new model for investment treaties in 2015. India has a further six BITs under the old model, but these are not yet open for a notice of termination. There are two BITs negotiated since 2015, on the new model, and these are in force.

Parliamentary Inquiry on the Australia-India interim trade agreement: submissions and inquiry delayed until after election on May 21

April 11, 2022: The interim Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AIECTA) was announced on April 1 to selected media and the good news about increased agricultural exports was in the  media before the text was signed and publicly released late on April 2.  See AFTINET’s initial media release which criticised the secrecy of the process and the lack of parliamentary scrutiny until after the election.

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.”

Indian government to stay out of RCEP and review all FTAs

July 28, 2020: Following a recent meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and an assessment of the outcomes of all India’s free trade agreements by the Commerce & Industry and Finance Ministries, the Indian government has created four working groups to develop a new trade strategy to boost foreign investment and exports, an official said to the Economic Times.

India opposes rejoining RCEP over China concerns

May 21, 2020: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s decision to quit the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership grouping, which includes the 10 ASEAN nations, in November 2019, and a new deadline for India to consider a new offer on market access expired on May 15, 2020.

Neither the Commerce and Industries Ministry nor the Ministry of External Affairs would confirm that they had even replied to the RCEP letter by May 15.

India FTA negotiations years away

20 April 2017: During a recent visit to India, PM Turnbull confirmed that negotiations with India for a bilateral free trade deal remain stalled and could be years away. Talks came to a standstill in late 2016 with the priority on the regional RCEP deal.

Since then, Turnbull’s recent announcement to abolish the 457 visa has further cooled the prospects of a deal in the immediate future. India had wanted greater access for its workers to come to Australia on an expanded 457 visa scheme.

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