India to focus on ECTA with Australia, Strategic Bond with Japan and trade talks with US

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Even though national elections in Australia voted for a new Labor government led by Anthony Albanese as the new Prime Minister, India is confident that regime change will not affect the momentum of the economic cooperation agreement and (ECTA), which was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Scott Morrison in March.

“With regard to the India-Australia strategic partnership, there is pretty much full bipartisan support in Australia for India-Australia relations,” said Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary. swarajya during a press conference.

“The India-Australia Free Trade Agreement was reached between the two countries during the virtual summit in March this year. We are fully confident that the talks between the Australian leader and the Prime Minister India in Tokyo, when they take place, will be forward-looking not only to take stock of how the relationship will evolve, but also how to develop it to deepen and expand the dimensions of the various cooperative efforts being made by India and Australia. I see nothing but positive, constructive and a forward-looking agenda for discussion and cooperation when it comes to India and Australia,” Kwatra said.

The Australian chapter is part of the itinerary of a diplomatic blitzkrieg that takes PM Modi to Japan on May 23-24 to attend the Quad Leaders’ Summit, following an invitation to attend from his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida.

Signaling continuity, Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell tweeted that Australia’s new Prime Minister-elect Anthony Albanese is ‘no stranger to India’ after traveling the country as a backpacker in 1991 and led a parliamentary delegation in 2018. the campaign he is committed to deepening economic, strategic and people-to-people ties,” O’Farrell said.

This is significant as the trade deal is India’s biggest breakthrough with a major power this year and envisions the elimination of tariffs on over 85% of Australian goods to India, liberalized visa standards for students and professionals and cheaper raw materials for India in steel. , aluminum and textile industries.

Under the deal, 97% of Indian goods will immediately enjoy preferential access to Australia after the deal comes into effect – normally in around four months – and the rest will be over the next five years. India seeks to boost bilateral trade between the two countries to $100 billion by 2030 with ECTA in place.

The bilateral meeting with Fumio Kishida and the meeting with Japanese business leaders are equally important in Modi’s busy schedule of 23 meetings in the span of 40 hours of touring Japan.

Modi declared his intention to advance dialogue and strengthen strategic and global partnership, especially in key economic areas. To realize the Japanese investment, India can find opportunities arising from the other key outcomes of Kishida’s recent visit to India, such as India-Japan Industrial Competitiveness Partnership Roadmap, Clean Energy Partnership, the Sustainable Development Initiative for the North East, agreements on sustainable urban development and cybersecurity. .

With deeper trade and investment ties also on the agenda, Modi’s meeting with Japanese business leaders will be important in pursuit of that goal. India’s total trade with Japan reached $15.3 billion in 2020-2021 and Japan was the fifth largest investor in India with $36.36 billion in FDI between April 2000 and December 2021.

India could consider joint infrastructure projects in the North Pacific islands, investments in local semiconductor manufacturing units, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and battery and hydrogen storage.

The bilateral with the US president on May 24 would be the first face-to-face meeting after the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, with India balancing its economic imperatives dictating the purchase of crude from Russia amid global sanctions and calling for peaceful interventions to end the crisis while staying away from resolutions against Russian action.

The start of 2022 saw trade in goods and services jump 45% to a high of $113 billion from the $78 billion recorded at the end of 2020. The Biden administration plans to work with India to build resilient supply chains and oil imports from India. from the United States is expected to increase by 11% this year as India seeks to source from producers around the world.

Additionally, the United States is also proposing to increase India’s development assistance in clean energy and digital economy from $25 million in 2021 to $66 million in fiscal year 2023.

The meeting is also gaining momentum following these positive dynamics and reports of US interest in making India a partner in an Indo-Pacific economic framework.

The IPEF, it seems, is not a traditional trade agreement. It would include different modules and include digital, labor and environmental issues, with binding commitments. The IPEF will not include market access commitments such as lowering tariff barriers and Congressional approval, which is essential for trade agreements, is not required for this.

When asked if India would join such an initiative without progress even on a limited trade deal with the United States, Kwatra said swarajya that this is an issue that is still under discussion and will only be known as things evolve. According to Kwatra, this must be seen from the perspective of the economic segment of the Indo-Pacific region which is very important, in terms of exploiting the economic partnership opportunities that exist, including those related to capacity building.

In this context, Prime Minister Modi may draw the attention of the Quad summit to economic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific to exploit the opportunities.

Collaboration on climate action is of key interest for India, which is to create a decarbonized green shipping network in the Indo-Pacific, use clean hydrogen and make it more accessible, as well as to pool capacities to assist Indo-Pacific countries in climate monitoring and information sharing. .

The Quad’s infrastructure coordination group also deliberated on supporting sustainable, demand-driven infrastructure in the region in a way that does not burden countries in the region with unsustainable debt.

Other priority areas of India’s cooperation measures in the Quad are critical and emerging technologies, biotechnology, semiconductor supply chain diversification and critical cyber infrastructure security.

India is also interested in further cooperation on COVID response, post-COVID management of health economy and infrastructure, which includes last mile delivery, health security, genomic surveillance, testing clinics and pandemic preparedness as important elements.

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