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India-Australia trade records nearly 14% drop

MELBOURNE: Trade between India and Australia has dipped sharply by nearly 14 per cent to 15.2 billion dollars in 2013 as compared to the previous year, according to official data.

The total two-way trade between the two countries stood at Australian dollars 15.2 billion last year, a decrease of 13.9 per cent on 2012 and the lowest in the last five years.

In 2008, the total trade was recorded at Australian dollars 18.9 billion whereas in 2012 it stood at Australian dollars 17.7 billion.

The decline in the trade has been attributed to factors like drop in gold imports from Australia, decline in coal prices as well as slowing down of the Indian economy.

The latest drop in the total trade volume has been due to a decline in quantity of gold imports from Australia and a decline in coal prices, said Anil K Sharma, first secretary, economics and commerce, Indian high commission.

However, India has been keen to expand its exports, Sharma said adding that Indian companies have been participating substantially in various trade and sourcing fairs held in Australia.

“ITPO will be participating in a Trade Fair in Perth this year and India will be the partner country. Apart from resources and energy, we have significant business in education and skills as well as IT-based services,” Sharma said.

Australia India Institute (AII) director Amitabh Mattoo, meanwhile, reiterated the need for the newly elected “Team Modi” to now make the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Australia as a priority.

Citing that the most important reason for the slackening of bilateral trade was the slowing down of the Indian economy and the huge tariff and non-tariff barriers that exist on both sides, Mattoo said, “An early conclusion of the negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement — with a minimal negative list — would throw open huge opportunities for both countries.”

“It is a win-win for both countries. It is estimated that in 20 years after the conclusion of a free trade agreement, Australia would gain Australian dollars 43 billion in real GDP while India’s real GDP gain would be Australian dollars 46 billion,” he said.

“The new Narendra Modi-led government, with its commitment to economic reforms and greater trade, must make the signing of a FTA with Australia a top priority,” he said.

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