Australian trade envoy Tony Abbott meets PM Modi, bilateral trade ties on agenda
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australia’s special trade envoy Tony Abbott on Thursday discussed ways to strengthen bilateral trade, investment and economic cooperation in order to help both sides address challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The former Australian premier is visiting the country during August 2-6 as Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s special trade envoy for India. Abbott is expected to focus on reviving negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), which have been stalled for more than five years.
The external affairs ministry said Modi and Abbott discussed ways to strengthen bilateral trade, investment and economic cooperation to realise the full potential of the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership, which was forged during a virtual summit in June last year.
“They emphasized that enhanced economic cooperation between India and Australia would help both countries better address the economic challenges emerging out of the Covid-19 pandemic, and would also help them in realising their shared vision of a stable, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region,” the ministry said in a statement.
Modi also referred to the “stellar growth” of bilateral ties in recent times and reiterated his desire to host Morrison in India as soon as conditions permit.
Abbott is meeting Indian ministers, business leaders and think tanks during his visit to take forward economic ties.
During last year’s virtual summit, the bilateral relationship was elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership, under which the two countries committed to encourage expanded trade and investment flows and to re-engage on negotiations for CECA.
India and Australia held nine rounds of negotiations on CECA between May 2011 and September 2015.
India and Australia also upgraded their 2+2 foreign affairs and defence dialogue to the ministerial level at the virtual summit and signed seven agreements focused on crucial areas such as defence and rare earth minerals, including the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement that will facilitate reciprocal access to military logistics facilities, allow more complex military exercises and improve interoperability between the armed forces of the two sides.