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Australia-India trade deal not sealed ahead of deadline

Australia is trying to negotiate a better deal for its agricultural products under an agreement with India, as the nation tries to reduce dependence on China.



Australia is unlikely to finalise a trade deal with India by the end of the year, as "significant issues" remain.


Negotiations are under way for the Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), which will build upon a previous "early harvest" agreement struck with the 1.4-billion strong nation.


The Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement came into force in December last year, and was hailed as a move to reduce economic dependence on China.


The two nations had hoped to seal the CECA by the end of 2023.


John Watts, from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Australia was "chasing the benefits" the nation didn't get from the interim deal with India.


"Both sides are working expeditiously to try and bring the agreement to conclusion," he told a parliamentary committee on Monday.


Mr Watts said there had been a round of formal negotiations last month, with Australia seeking greater access for its agricultural products to the Indian market, particularly wine.


"The negotiation is pretty well advanced and we've made quite a lot of progress, but there are significant issues that remain," he said.


Treaties committee chair and Fremantle MP Josh Wilson said the initial agreement was the first India had settled with a developed nation in 10 years. 


"What we heard from officials was that the government is seeking to build upon that achievement ... through expeditious negotiation rounds," he said.


"Expanding access for Australian wine in India as well as other agricultural goods through CECA was a focused recommendation by the committee."


India imposes high tariffs on imported wine and other agricultural products.

The committee heard India has a young wine industry it is trying to develop.


Australia's wine industry was targeted with punitive sanctions by Beijing during the height of a diplomatic spat with Canberra in 2020.


Producers have been seeking to diversify since China imposed the bans.


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