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India and Australia discuss bilateral trade agreement
Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishanka. Source: AP.
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  • India is currently in talks with Australian officials to develop a bilateral free trade agreement between the two nations
  • India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishanka revealed the news in an interview with foreign policy research group the Lowy Institute
  • The news follows India’s decision to exit the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a China-led trade bloc that comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries
  • Many commentators have recently called for Australia to strengthen its trade partnerships with nearby nations, as trade tensions continue to escalate with its largest trading partner China

India is currently in talks with Australian officials to develop a bilateral free trade agreement between the two nations.

The news follows India’s decision to exit the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a China-led trade bloc that comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries. The bloc is now the largest trading agreement of its kind that excludes the U.S.

India stepped out deal, which was signed last month, to allow it to more freely negotiate its own trade agreement with regional partners. Nevertheless, The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which comprises much of the bloc, has said that it remains open to renegotiating India’s re-entry into the trade agreement.

India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishanka revealed the Australian trade talks in a recent interview with foreign policy research group the Lowy Institute.

“There is a discussion on a free trade agreement, a bilateral free trade agreement as well because, as you know, we didn’t sign the RCEP,” he said.

Details of the potential trade deal remain unclear, but India has expressed a desire to strike up numerous bilateral agreements across the region, as it remains opposed to large-scale agreements like RCEP.

This is potentially good news for Australia, which is already a member of RCEP and will therefore claim the benefits of the trade bloc, while also being able to negotiate a nation-to-nation agreement with one of Southeast Asia's fasting growing economies.

The news follows months of trade tensions between Australia and its largest trade partner China. This has led to many commentators calling for Australia to strengthen its trade partnerships with other nations in the region.

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