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Australia and India building a stronger relationship.

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The Hon Simon Crean MP Minister for Trade


Media contact: Mr Crean’s Office (Bernie Eades 0488 295 800)

SC010 21 January 2008


The Australian Minister for Trade, Simon Crean, has concluded the first visit to India by a Minister in the recently elected Australian Government.

The Australian Government is committed to taking the bilateral relationship with India to a higher and more comprehensive level.

The early visit to India by Minister Crean was the first step in pursuing this objective.

Total trade between Australia and India has been growing by more than 30 per cent on a yearly basis.

India is now Australia’s 9th largest trading partner and Australia is India’s 10th largest trading partner.

One key aspect of Minister Crean’s visit was to convey to Indian Ministers and the Indian business community the high priority that Australia places on bringing the WTO Doha round of trade negotiations to a successful conclusion.

Minister Crean also emphasised to the Indian Government that the benefits of trade liberalisation at the border will only be fully achieved if it is complemented by domestic economic reform behind the border - that is, the twin pillars approach to sustainable economic development.

In his meeting with the Indian Minister for Trade and Commerce, Mr Kamal Nath, Mr Crean highlighted areas where Australia and India could work together in bringing the Doha Round to a successful conclusion, including in agriculture, manufacturing and services.

Given the increasingly important strategic and economic role India is now playing in the region, Minister Crean advised the Indian Government that Australia would actively work to have India invited to become a member of APEC.

Both Ministers also looked forward to work commencing on a Free Trade Agreement study between Australia and India, and to the next Australia-India Joint Ministerial Commission meeting to be hosted by Australia.

Mr Crean registered Australia's concerns at India's freight subsidies for sugar exports; urged the implementation of the mining reforms recommended by the Hoda Committee; and the continuation of India’s financial sector reform program.

At every opportunity, Mr Crean also highlighted the importance of concerted action by the international community to address the challenges posed by climate change.

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During his visit, Mr Crean gave a keynote address on The Benefits of Freer Trade at the Partnership summit hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry.

He addressed the Mumbai and New Delhi Australian and New Zealand Business Associations in India (ANZBAI); the heads of numerous Indian regional business chambers; the Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

Mr Crean also opened the new Australian High Commission Chancery in New Delhi. In doing, so he noted the increase in the number of Australian Government officials in New Delhi reflected the broadening and greater diversity of Australia’s relationship with India.

Media contact: Mr Crean’s Office (Bernie Eades 0488 295 800)

Departmental (02) 6261 1555