Andrew Robb heads to India to seal FTA

Source: The Australian

9 Jan 2015

TRADE and Investment Minister Andrew Robb — who presided over the “trade trifecta” that finalised free-trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea last year — leaves today for India, aiming to win a further FTA there by year end.

Mr Robb will be joined by NSW Premier Michael Baird, South Australian Minister for Investment and Trade Martin Hamilton-Smith, ­Assistant Minister for Infrastructure Jamie Briggs, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture Richard Colbeck, and about 450 business leaders.

They will participate in Australian Business Week in India, which has become Australia’s fifth biggest export market, buying $9.5 billion of goods in 2013, led by coal, gold and copper. Indians also bought educational ­services worth $1.9bn in 2013.

India has invested $10.9bn in Australia, chiefly in resource projects led by coal, and Australian firms have invested $6.6bn in India.

The Business Week program includes investment and other forums in New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Jaipur and Chandigarth.

Mr Robb will join Prime Minister Narendra Modi in ­Vibrant Gujarat 2015 — a key economic event in Mr Modi’s home state of Gujarat — and will open the Confederation of Indian Industries’ India-Australia Business Summit in New Delhi.

The visit follows those by Tony Abbott to India in September, and by Mr Modi to Australia during the G20 Summit in November. Both leaders have announced their aim to conclude an FTA this year.

Mr Robb said Mr Modi had made clear during his Australian visit that “India sees Australia as a major partner in every area of its priorities’’.

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