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PIB Summary for UPSC

6-May-2024

1. India and Australia to work closely for collaborative projects

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Bilateral Relations
Context

●  India and Australia held a productive Joint Committee Meeting to bolster their $24 billion merchandise trade ties.

●  Discussions ranged from resolving trade agreement issues to enhancing cooperation in critical services, signalling a commitment to deepen economic relations and explore new opportunities for bilateral cooperation.

 Analysis of the news:

  • India and Australia, as significant trading partners in the Oceania region, conducted a Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) aimed at strengthening bilateral economic ties and exploring new opportunities for cooperation.
  • The meeting, led by Indian Commerce Secretary Shri Sunil Barthwal and Australian Deputy Secretary Shri George Mina, addressed various trade and investment-related issues.
  • Discussions included the implementation of the India-Australia Economic Co-operation and Trade Agreement (Ind-Aus ECTA), addressing market access issues for products like okra, pomegranate, and pharmaceutical pricing control.
 India-Australia Economic Co-operation and Trade Agreement (Ind-Aus ECTA):

● India and Australia have operationalized the India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (Ind-Aus ECTA) from December 29, 2022.

The ECTA provides Indian goods with access to the Australian market with zero customs duty on all tariff lines.

● It covers almost all tariff lines dealt by both countries, benefiting sectors like Gems and Jewellery, Textiles, and Automobiles.

Australia has offered wide-ranging commitments in around 135 sub-sectors of services, while India has offered access in around 103 sub-sectors to Australia.

The agreement is estimated to create an additional 10 lakh jobs in India, with benefits for Indian Yoga teachers, chefs, and students.

  • The JCM established an institutional mechanism for regular exchange of preferential import data and addressed critical services issues like cross-border e-payments and mutual recognition agreements in professions like nursing and dentistry.
  • The commitment to remove certain requirements, alongside discussions on facilitating the mobility of healthcare workers and promoting telemedicine.
  • The meeting reviewed progress under the India-Australia CECA negotiations, aiming for a balanced outcome.
India-Australia CECA

What is CECA?

●  CECA stands for Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. It is a bilateral trade agreement aimed at fostering closer economic ties between two countries.

●  CECA is a comprehensive trade agreement that covers various aspects of economic cooperation between two nations.

● It aims to promote trade in goods and services, investment, and other economic activities.

●  CECA negotiations typically involve multiple rounds of discussions and consultations between the negotiating parties.

●  The agreement may include provisions related to tariff reduction, market access, intellectual property rights, and regulatory cooperation.

CECA agreements are designed to create a favourable environment for trade and investment, leading to mutual benefits for both countries involved.

 India-Australia CECA:

Australia’s exports to India totalled $32.4 billion and imports from India totalled $12.6 billion in 2022-23.

● CECA negotiations between Australia and India began in May 2011, with nine rounds before suspension in 2016.

● In September 2021, negotiations were re-launched with the aim of swiftly concluding an Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA).

● ECTA was signed on 2 April 2022 and entered into force on 29 December 2022, aiming to liberalise and deepen bilateral trade.

● CECA negotiations have resumed to build upon ECTA outcomes for closer economic ties, inviting submissions from stakeholders to inform the process.

 

  • Businesses and associations explored areas of mutual interest including capacity building, vocational training, collaboration on critical minerals, digital connectivity, finance, education, agriculture, and healthcare.
  • Overall, there was a strong eagerness from both governments and businesses to enhance cooperation and take the strategic partnership to a new level for mutual benefit.
India Australia partnership for mutual benefit

Strategic Alignment: India and Australia share common strategic interests, including maritime security and the stability of the Indo-Pacific region.

Economic Collaboration: Bilateral trade and investment between India and Australia have been growing steadily, with both countries seeking to diversify their economic partnerships. Australia’s exports to India totalled $32.4 billion and imports from India totalled $12.6 billion in 2022-23.

Defence Cooperation: Both nations engage in joint defence exercises, such as AustraHind-23, AUSINDEX and intelligence sharing, and defence technology collaboration to address shared security challenges.

Education and Research: India-Australia collaboration in education and research spans various fields, including science, technology, engineering, and innovation.

People-to-People Ties: Cultural exchanges, tourism, and diaspora connections contribute to strengthening the bonds between the two nations.

Strategic Dialogue: Regular high-level dialogues and summits between India and Australia facilitate discussions on regional and global issues of mutual concern.

Multilateral Engagement: India and Australia cooperate in multilateral forums such as the United Nations, G20, and ASEAN, advocating for common interests and values.

Emerging Areas of Cooperation: Both countries explore opportunities for collaboration in emerging sectors like renewable energy, cybersecurity, and space exploration.

Diplomatic Relations: Diplomatic ties between India and Australia have deepened over the years, with frequent high-level visits and exchanges strengthening bilateral relations.

Shared Values: India and Australia share democratic values, respect for rule of law, and commitment to a rules-based international order, forming the foundation of their partnership.

PYQ: ‘Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad)’ is transforming itself into a trade bloc from a military alliance, in present times – Discuss. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2020)
Practice Question:  Assess the evolving dynamics of India-Australia relations in the context of economic cooperation, strategic partnerships, and regional cooperation. How do recent developments contribute to reshaping bilateral ties? (250 Words /15 marks)

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