New Delhi, Mar 11 (PTI) India and Australia on Saturday expressed their commitment for concluding the negotiations for expanding the scope of existing free trade agreement by the end of this year with an aim to push the bilateral trade to USD 100 billion.
The issue came up for discussions during the meeting of joint ministerial commission between commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal and his Australian counterpart Don Farrell.
Farrell is accompanying Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese who is here on an official visit.
On December 29, last year India and Australia implemented an economic cooperation and trade agreement (ECTA) and are now negotiating to expand its scope for a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA).
'ECTA was the first stage of our economic engagement. We are now entering into phase-2 of our discussions where we are looking at much wider ambit of subjects and taking this into a CECA,' Goyal told reporters here.
After the first India-Australia summit talks here on March 10 on a range of key issues, Albanese has said that both sides are looking at firming up the ambitious CECA by 2023 while a joint statement mentioned that the two prime ministers tasked the concerned officials to expedite the conclusion of a Migration and Mobility Partnership Arrangement (MMPA) within the next three months.
On the deadline to conclude the CECA negotiations, Goyal said that though anything done with a deadline is always 'dangerous' as 'you may land up making mistakes', but 'we' must do things fast.
Both the trade ministers, he said, are committed to speed up the negotiations.
Both the prime ministers have 'collectively tasked us to work towards closing the CECA negotiations within this calender year. We would love to do that. We would work to engage in a same spirit as ECTA and hope for quick outcomes without compromising on its quality,' he added.
He also said that 'we are very very dissatisfied' with the USD 30-billion bilateral trade and the officials of India and Australia have kept a target of USD 45-50 billion in the next five years.
Both the ministers have expressed 'unhappiness' towards the trade negotiators and said they 'will be much more ambitious and aim for a USD 100-billion trade between the two economies', he said.
Farrell said that the two countries 'can achieve' this target.