Australia will offer to make investments in India’s agriculture industry to secure a trade deal when the two countries recommence talks next month.
Negotiations have stalled between Australia and India after protesters opposing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal to deregulate the farming industry forced delays in the talks.
The government argues the proposed farming reforms to provide farmers with more autonomy to trade freely.
Despite India’s tensions, Australia’s new Federal Trade Minister Dan Tehan is optimistic progress can be made between the Indo-Pacific partners.
Tehan said it is within both nations’ interests, but acknowledges that India is going through an “incredibly difficult circumstances” with the reforms.
“[A]s they deal with trade liberalisation … they want to make sure that the sectors that are dear to them, and especially their agriculture sector, that they’re able to develop and grow in a way that they’re competitive globally before they feel like they’re very confident to be able to engage with other countries,” Tehan told SkyNews on Wednesday.
He said he has suggestions about how Australia can help build this confidence.
One idea that came from a conversation Tehan had with Australia’s grain industry leaders on Tuesday night was, he said they could support and help by “getting further investment into India, into their milling capacity.”
Furthermore, “You might do that in ports, which would enable us to be able to get our grain in to help their milling capacity.”
Tehan noted the aim is to help build India’s agriculture capability in a way that doesn’t threaten their interests but enhances it.
Less Reliant on China
Tehan is hoping to secure free-trade deals with the UK and the European Union this year and grow trade with other APEC members (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation).
The Chinese regimes trade sanctions on a growing list of commodities including barley, beef, wine and lobster have meant Australia has become less reliant by diversifying into other markets.
On Wednesday, he revealed that Australian and Chinese trade ministers had not held an official meeting with each other for three years.
Both countries appointed new ministers around the Christmas period, and Tehan has since reached out to his counterpart with a “very constructive letter,” but has had no reply.