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Efforts on to sign free trade pact by next year end

Efforts on to sign free trade pact by next year end Australia today said efforts are being made to ink the comprehensive free trade pact with India by the end of next year, even as both the sides agreed on early conclusion of the agreement to boost bilateral economic ties.

“Today we have committed ourselves to finalise it at least by the end of next year,” Abbott said in a joint press briefing with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The Prime Ministers welcomed the progress towards a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) would support a significant expansion of two-way trade and investment.

“They renewed the commitment of both countries for an early conclusion of an equitable, balanced, comprehensive and high quality agreement,” a joint statement issued after a meeting between the two Prime Ministers here.

The negotiations for the CECA were started in 2011. It is aimed at further liberalising and broadening the base of merchandise trade, removing non-tariff barriers and encouraging investments between the two nations. So far, many rounds of negotiations have been completed.

Both the leaders recommitted themselves to expanding trade further for mutual benefit and as a long-term and sustainable boost to economic growth.

“They agreed that there was a significant scope to boost investment and collaboration in both directions in infrastructure, resources, agriculture, manufacturing, health, education and other sectors to increase efficiencies, introduce new technologies and develop innovation and skills,” it said.

Abbott, according to the joint statement, expressed commitment to providing a stable investment environment and streamlined approvals process.

Modi also welcomed Australian investments in infrastructure, resources, technology and other projects in India.

Further, both the Prime Ministers noted the expanding bilateral dialogue on economic policy, including in areas such as taxation, competition, financial sector regulation and infrastructure.

“They agreed that economic engagement and business partnerships should be strengthened through a revitalised CEO Forum and encouraged regular exchange of business and trade missions and the convening of an India-Australia Business Summit in Delhi in early 2015,” it added.

The bilateral trade between the countries declined to USD 12.12 billion in 2013-14 from USD 15.43 billion in 2012-13.

In the last 14 years, India had received USD 600 million foreign direct investment (FDI) from Australia.

On the other hand, India has invested over USD 1 billion in in the last decade.