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India set to become one of Australia's key regional partners.

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Media release

Thursday, 19 May 2005 - MVT39/2005

India Set to Become One of Australia's Key Regional Partners

Trade Minister Mark Vaile announced today that work is to begin on a Trade and Economic Framework (TEF) between Australia and India.

Mr Vaile and India's Commerce and Industry Minister, the Hon Kamal Nath made the decision at the Ninth Australia-India Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) meeting in Sydney today.

"I am delighted with the results of today's talks where Minister Nath and I agreed to task our officials with developing a Trade and Economic Framework to support the further expansion of economic and commercial ties,"

Mr Vaile said.

"India's growing strategic importance and continuing economic expansion means it is set to become one of Australia's key regional and bilateral partners."

India has been Australia's fastest growing merchandise export market over the past five years with trend growth in merchandise exports at 26.4 per cent, the highest among Australia's top 30 markets. India has now overtaken the UK to become Australia's sixth largest export market. Exports of goods and services to India amounted to almost $6 billion

The proposed TEF would set the direction for the facilitation and future development of our trade and economic relationship. A key aim will be to boost cooperation and enhance policy dialogue on issues of mutual interest.

"We have a lot to offer each other - Australia has the resources, the technology and the services to partner India's continued economic expansion while India stands to benefit from the facilitation of Australian investment, particularly in areas such as energy and

resources, infrastructure development, food and agricultural processing, and services," Mr Vaile said.

"The TEF reflects the Government's commitment to further developing trade linkages with an increasingly important economic partner in South Asia. It would be consistent with both countries' objectives in the World Trade Organisation."

Total trade of goods and services between Australia and India was worth A$7.4 billion in 2004, placing India 13th on the list of Australia's trading partners. Australia is India's eighth largest overseas investor, with close to $1 billion approved for around 140 joint ventures.

Contact: Mr Vaile's office 02 6277 7420