The Parliament of Australia passed bilateral free trade agreements with India and Britain recently, pushing to have both deals secured this year. The Bills are crucial for Australia which will help to diversify its exports from the Chinese market to India and to the needs of Britain to forge new bilateral relations since it left the European Union. The House of Representatives easily passed the bills and the government hopes the senate already made them law.
The Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese’s center-left Labour Party Government holds a majority in the House but not in the upper chamber. However, the government can count on the support of the conservative opposition, which remained in power until the may election and negotiated both deals. The deals are required to be ratified by the respective Indian and British parliaments before they take effect.
Don Farrel, The Trade Minister of Australia said that India had demonstrated its commitment to the bilateral economic partnership through the quality of the deal struck. Further, he said that closer economic ties with India are a critical component of the trade diversification strategy of the government. The British deal was crucial to boost the growth of Australia according to Farrel.
Under the deal made between Britain-Australia, more than 99% of the export of Australian goods will be duty-free, including sheep meat, beef, sugar, wine, and dairy. Taxes on 90 percent of the Australian goods that are exported to India including wool, meat, cotton, seafood, avocados, and nuts, will also be omitted.
Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese discussed the deals with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia. Albanese has decided to visit India in March in order to advance the deals that were signed in April. The deal with the British government was signed in December, by then Prime Minister Boryearis Johnson’s administration, which was later criticized by its successors for failing to deliver more for Britain.
The deals would come into force 30 days after the nations have advised each other in writing that the supporting legislation has been passed by their respective parliaments. The World Trade Office Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was welcomed by Prime Minister Albanese and his ministers to the national capital Canberra. Trade Minister Don Farrel said the topic of discussions with Ngozi Okonjo included how to implement the outcomes of the World Trade Body’s Conference which is scheduled to be held in June next year.
A string of deals and commitments were made by WTO that aimed to protect stocks of ocean fish, broaden the COVID-19 vaccine productions in developing countries, improve food security, and reformation of a 27-year-old trade body that has been back on its heels in recent years.