Australia’s trade deals with India and Britain reach Senate

CANBERRA – Australia’s bilateral free trade deals with India and Britain entered the Senate on Tuesday, with the government pushing to finalize both deals this year.

The bills are crucial for Australia to diversify its exports to India from the struggling Chinese market and for Britain’s need to forge new bilateral trade ties since leaving the European Union.

The bills passed the House of Representatives without a hitch on Monday, and the government hopes the Senate will pass them into law with a vote later Tuesday.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s centre-left Labor Party government has a majority in the House of Representatives but not the House of Lords.

But the government can count on the support of the conservative opposition, which was in power until the May elections and negotiated both deals.

The agreements must be ratified by the respective British and Indian parliaments before they come into effect. No nation has done this before.

Trade Secretary Don Farrell said India has demonstrated its commitment to the bilateral economic partnership through the quality of the deal struck.

“Closer economic ties with India are a critical part of the government’s trade diversification strategy,” Farrell said in a statement.

Farrell said the UK deal is “critical to spur our growth”.

Under the Australia-UK deal, more than 99% of Australia’s goods exports will be duty-free, including mutton, beef, dairy, sugar and wine.

Taxes on 90% of Australian goods exported to India, including meat, wool, cotton, seafood, nuts and avocados, will also be eliminated.

Albanese discussed the deals with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia last week.

Albanese said he will visit India in March to push ahead with the deal signed in April.

The UK deal was signed by the government of then Prime Minister Boris Johnson in December and was criticized by his successors for not delivering more for Britain.

The accords would come into effect 30 days after countries have written to each other informing each other that the supporting legislation has been passed by their parliaments.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. Australia’s trade deals with India and Britain reach Senate

Sarah Y. Kim

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