India-Australia trade: India and Australia are expected to conclude talks on a preliminary free trade agreement soon

India and Australia are expected to finalize negotiations on an Interim Free Trade Agreement (FTA) soon, a move designed to strengthen economic ties between the two countries, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The final agreement, officially known as the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), is slated for completion by the end of 2022.

The pact covers areas such as goods, services, investments, rules of origin, customs relief, legal and institutional issues.

“The CECA negotiations between India and Australia are at an advanced stage. Both countries are expected to conclude negotiations on the interim agreement soon,” it said.

The ministry also said a similar agreement with the UAE is expected to be signed in March 2022.

“This new strategic economic agreement aims to increase bilateral trade in goods to $ 100 billion and trade in services to $ 15 billion within five years of signing the agreement,” she added.

In relation to the $ 400 billion export target for this fiscal year, it says India’s goods exports will have hit 65.89 percent of the target by November.

“An export monitoring desk was set up in the statistics department of the DGFT to monitor the achievement of objectives on a monthly basis,” it continues.

The India pavilion at Dubai Expo is also said to have attracted six lakh visitors in 83 days of its opening.

In addition, the ministry announced in its annual report that a total of 31.8 Lakh providers have come on board at the Government e-Marketplace (GeM).

“In line with the government’s vision, GeM has created a unified procurement system for the country by bringing the functions of Defense Public Procurement Portal, Central Public Procurement Portal and its sub-portals to GeM to provide a single user experience,” it said .

The system will consolidate the scattered supplier bases when publishing portals on GeM, which will lead to economies of scale, better pricing and the dissemination of best practices in procurement.

Regarding the national logistics policy, it is said that the policy was developed after extensive consultations with all ministries.

“In addition, a national 75-point action plan for the logistics reform with specific actionable points of the guideline was drawn up. The revised policy is in the final stages of approval. It aims to reduce logistics costs by around 5 percent over the next 5 years, placing it in the top 25 major global logistics-related performance indices, “she added.

The ministry said that between 2021 and December 22-8, new projects with a total trade infrastructure fund for the export program (TIES) of Rs.113 billion had been approved by an authorized committee.

Speaking of the Rubber Board’s initiatives, it said the board is conducting a nationwide census on rubber using the digitized mobile application “RUBAC,” developed in partnership with Digital University, Kerala, to map the area under rubber determine newly planted area, replanted area, age profile of trees, discarded area over the years, adoption rate of new clones, size of farms and details of tappers.