TRADE minister Dan Tehan and his Indian counterpart, minister for commerce and industry, food and consumer affairs Piyush Goyal, held talks on a trade agreement.

The two ministers conferred over video conference, discussing the progress made in three rounds of talks between trade negotiators.

In a joint press statement, the ministers said they discussed the way forward for an early conclusion of a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

“In this regard, the ministers directed officials to speed up the negotiations and to meet as often as required to achieve an early harvest announcement by December 2021 on an interim agreement to liberalise and deepen bilateral trade in goods and services and pave the way for a comprehensive agreement,” the ministers said in the statement.

“The ministers noted the importance that negotiations take into account the views of business, industry and other stakeholders, and decided to start consultations on the potential opportunities and impacts of an interim agreement as a pathway to a full CECA.”

The ministers said they look forward to a balanced trade agreement that encourages expanded trade and investment flows to the benefit of both of our economies and peoples, and that reflects their shared commitment to the rules-based international trading system.

According to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade data, total merchandise trade between India and Australia was worth $15.7 billion in 2019-20. Exports to India during that year were worth $11 billion, while imports from India were worth $4.7 billion.

By far Australia’s biggest export to India was coal, worth $7.8 billion in 2019-20. This was followed by copper concentrate ($447 million); natural gas ($369 million); and non-ferrous waste and scrap ($157 million).

India’s top exports to Australia in 2019-20 included refined petroleum ($867 million); medicaments ($449 million); and pearls and gems ($227 million).