[Answered] Highlight the significance of the India-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain the significance of the India-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

Conclusion: Write a way forward.

India and Australia signed an Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA). Currently, Australia is the 17th largest trading partner of India and India is Australia’s 9th largest trading partner. The ECTA is expected to increase trade between the two sides to $45-50 billion over five years, from the current estimate of $27 billion, and create over 10 lakh additional job opportunities.

Significance of the India-Australia Free Trade Agreement:

  • Boost to bilateral trade:  India is expected to get zero-duty access to Australia for its goods over five years. India will also allow Australia to export raw materials under preferential terms like coal and mineral ores.
  • Services sector:  It covers key areas of the Indian services sector like IT, ITES, business services, health, education and audio-visual services. STEM graduates, doctoral students will get 4 years of work visa in Australia. Postgraduate will get 3 years’ work visa.
  • Pharmaceuticals sector: India and Australia have agreed to enable fast track approvalfor patented, generic and biosimilar medicines. Both sides have agreed to audits of imports that require sanitary and phytosanitary inspection as per the law of the land.
  • Dispute Settlement Mechanism:  This is the first trade deal signed by India that has a compulsory review mechanism after 15 years of implementation.
  • Rules of origin: Products should be “wholly obtained or produced in the territory of one or both of the parties”. This section ensures that waste material will not be exported by either side unless they contribute to the production of any of the items listed in the ECTA. It aims at creating anti-dumping measures.
  • Strategic Importance: ECTA will further boost India’s partnership with Australia along with Japan in trilateral Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) and QUAD Grouping along with U.SA. and Japan.

ETCA will further cement the already deep, close and strategic relations between the two countries. It will significantly raise living standards, and improve the general welfare of the peoples of the two countries.

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