India and Australia are expected to reach an interim trade deal on goods and services by the end of March, with Canberra set to announce an investment totaling ₹1,500 crore (AU$280 million) at Monday’s virtual bilateral summit.
This will be the second virtual summit between the two countries, which are also members of the Quadruple Security Dialogue or Quad, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison are expected to present a number of initiatives to strengthen cooperation in various areas: defense against rare earth minerals .
Australian High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell said at a media briefing that the two sides intend to finalize the early harvest or intermediate trade deal by the end of this month. “We continue to hope that the interim [or] The Phase I agreement will be concluded this month,” he said.
Last October, the two countries set an ambitious goal of reaching an interim trade deal by December and completing negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) by the end of 2022. However, the early harvest deal was put on hold. fears of the Indian side about the opening of the agricultural and dairy sectors.
O’Farrell said trade negotiators on both sides have done an “incredibly productive job” over the past three months and both countries are pleased with the progress made. He did not provide details.
The two sides reportedly agreed on the text of most of the interim deal and exchanged market access offers. Australian Commerce Minister Dan Tehan has visited India twice since last September to kick-start a temporary trade deal.
In addition, people familiar with the planning of the virtual summit said that Australia is expected to announce an investment worth ₹1,500 crore (AU$280 million) during a meeting covering fields ranging from critical minerals to space cooperation. This will be the largest Australian government investment in India.
Will the investment be worth it ₹193 crores in the field of clean technologies and critical minerals, which will be aimed at increasing cooperation in the field of research, production and commercialization of renewable energy technologies and the exploitation of critical minerals. The investment will complement the Letter of Intent on New and Renewable Energy signed by both parties in February and will help build reliable and sustainable supply chains.
Australia has significant reserves of critical minerals needed for green technology and electric vehicles. It accounts for more than 55% of the world’s lithium production, for example, and the new initiative will give India “first access” to critical materials, people say.
In this context, a Memorandum of Understanding on India’s Strategic Investment in Australian Critical Minerals Projects was recently signed and Union Mines Minister Prahlad Joshi is expected to visit Australia shortly to move forward.
Investment cost ₹Rs 136 crores will be announced for enhanced space cooperation, including the creation of a dedicated India-focused stream under Australia’s International Space Investment Initiative, while ₹152 crores will be invested in the creation of a new center of bilateral relations in Australia. Farther ₹97 crores will be invested in developing cooperation in trade, skills and innovation.
The two sides will also announce an Indian-Australian Young Defense Officer Exchange Program, named after the late Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat, to develop links between the defense forces, enhance training opportunities and improve the exchange of information on maritime security issues. .
It is expected that a letter of intent will be signed regarding partnership agreements in the field of migration and mobility to support the mobility of citizens of both parties, leading to a full agreement in this area. The parties will also establish a task force on the recognition of educational qualifications to expand access to higher education and support employment opportunities.
Australia will also announce the return of 29 significant Indian artefacts from its National Gallery and a Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation between the Australian Special Broadcasting Service and India’s Prasar Bharati will be signed.
The two countries upgraded their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership during the 2020 virtual summit, and Monday’s summit will focus on initiatives that will help bring resilience, prosperity and security to the region and create an architect fit for the post-pandemic world, the people said. .