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First Joint Committee Meeting held between India and Australia

India and Australia held their first Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) in Canberra, Australia, on 29 April 2024. Indian Commerce Secretary Shri Sunil Barthwal led the Indian delegation and met with Deputy Secretary George Mina from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Australia. Several meetings took place in Canberra, Sydney, and Melbourne among Indian and Australian business community representatives and counterparts.

Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement

Both countries agreed to implement the India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade  Agreement (Ind-Aus ECTA) smoothly. At subsequent meetings, several key issues were discussed, including Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) on organic products; market access issues related to okra, pomegranate, cottage cheese, grapes, lentils,  macadamia nuts, and avocado; pharmaceutical pricing control in Australia, especially on Generics; progress of the working groups on whisky and wine which aimed to resolve regulatory challenges and promote their trade; outcomes of ECTA sub-committee meetings. Both sides also discussed topics of mutual interest, such as coastal tourism and critical mineral collaboration for establishing disease-free zones for prawns and shrimp in India. The JCM also established an institutional mechanism for the monthly exchange of preferential import data. The meeting discussed the possibility of an integrated approach to the upcoming CEO forum event to promote start-up investments.


The JCM took up major concerns like India’s request for mutual recognition agreements and cross-border e-payments in dentistry and nursing. It agreed to remove the ENT/LMT requirement per the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement. The mobility of healthcare workers across the two countries was also a pertinent topic of discussion, as was the promotion of telemedicine.

Economic Cooperation

Additional Secretary Shri Rajesh Aggarwal from the Department of Commerce (DoC) and Assistant Secretary Shri Ravi Kewalram from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) held discussions under the India-Australia CECA (Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement) negotiations to reach a balanced outcome of the Ind-Aus ECTA. Shri Sunil Barthwal broached the WTO (World Trade Organisation) subject and emphasised the importance of Australia’s support for a permanent solution to public stockholding (PSH). Furthermore, Australia sought India’s support in envisioning a plurilateral arrangement for domestic support for services. Both countries agreed to visit these topics intersessionally, if necessary.

Business Meetings

There were many meetings among businesses and business associations, too. Associations like the Australia India Business Council, Chambers of Commerce in Sydney and Melbourne, and CII were some essential participants. Businesses were keen to work on vocational training, capacity building, and hiring skilled professionals and caretakers like healthcare workers and nurses. They plan to do so through skill gap mapping exercises, mutual recognition of standards, collaboration on critical minerals, digital connectivity including cross-border payments, finance, education, agriculture, dairy & food processing, transport and storage, sports, space, pharmaceuticals, silicon wafers, medical equipment, etc.

India and Australia are important trading partners in the Oceania region. Their trade valuation was 24 billion USD in 2023-24. The JCM is an essential platform for countries to strengthen trade cooperation and explore new avenues of bilateral economic collaboration, including technology.