Australian Trade Minister calls for intensified Doha negotiations

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New Delhi, Sep.2 (ANI): Australia's Minister for Trade, Simon Crean, has called for intensified negotiations across all areas of the Doha negotiations in a speech to the CII on September 2.

He noted that while Doha Round covers a vast range of trading sectors, agriculture and industrial products tend to dominate media attention. The real gains for many countries, including India, are in areas such as services and trade facilitation. He said "that is why we need our officials to be prepared to negotiate across the spectrum of Doha areas."

Crean noted the recent Peterson Institute study into the benefits of concluding the Doha Round. A successful conclusion to the Doha Round could deliver as much as US$300 billion to US$700 billion per year additional GDP to the world economy.

He said "that is a huge impact with great on-going benefits for all nations from greater trade flows."

He added that "benefits would flow to developed and developing countries and boost services. For India, this could equate to a boost of almost 2 per cent of GDP growth or in dollar figures a boost of US$ 22.4 billion annually to the Indian economy."

Crean stressed the importance of Australia and India working together to advance the Doha round.

He said "in Bangkok, India and Australia worked together for convergence in Asia" pushing for "track one status of an examination of a new Free Trade Area spanning the 10 countries of South-East Asia - known as ASEAN plus India, Japan, China, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia."

This ASEAN+6 would cover some 3 billion people and have a collective GDP of $US14.1 trillion. Minister Crean said "we both supported that proposal very strongly in Bangkok and we succeeded with it - another example of the Indian-Australian partnership at work."

Crean told the audience that it is time to raise the level of the Australia-India relationship to "a strategic partnership -benefiting both nations and the region."

He said "eight Australian Ministers are expected to visit India in 2009 and nine Indian ministers have visited Australia in the past 18 months," and added "India is Australia's fastest growing major two-way trading partner."

In 2008, trade between India and Australia increased by 43 per cent to 18.9 billion dollars.

Speaking to gathered business representatives, Minister Crean said Indian business should "look to Australia - the fastest growing developed country in the world in the past year."

He noted that the joint Free Trade Agreement feasibility study - which commenced in August 2007 was reaching its final stages, and he would return to India next month to discuss the next steps.

Crean concluded that Australia and India needed to "think big about how our bilateral relationship and how our strategic partnership should evolve and develop over the next decade." (ANI)

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