India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement Signing Ceremony

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: India-Australia free trade agreement; the Quad; India-Australia Virtual Summit.

SPEAKER: As its customary in Australia, I begin today by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet and pay my respects to their elders, past and present. I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, peoples here or online. Welcome to the signing ceremony. Today we will view the signing of the India Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement. I would now like to invite the Honourable Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment of Australia, to make some remarks.

MINISTER TEHAN: Prime Minister Modi, Prime Minister Morrison, my good friend the Indian Trade Minister Piyush Goyal, it's wonderful to be joining you on this historic occasion. Can I say to both Prime Ministers thank you for what you've invested into this agreement through your friendship and your determination to bring our two countries together. We find ourselves at this historic moment. To my good friend Piyush Goyal, thank you for your friendship over the last seven and eight months, ever since we enjoyed that wonderful lunch in New Delhi, three hours one-on-one where we set ourselves the task of concluding this agreement, we have worked tirelessly with our negotiators to make sure that we've got to this occasion. We are very confident that this deal will see our two-way trade, the trade between our nations, double in the coming years. We also know that this agreement will underpin the economic stability of the Indo-Pacific. It is an agreement for its time. It is an agreement for this moment and it's wonderful to be able to join with you to sign it — and what a wonderful occasion to be doing it on India's New Year. This will create a new dawn for our nations but also it is wonderful to be able to celebrate it on such on august occasion in India. Thank you very much.

SPEAKER: I'd like to invite Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce, Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food and Public Distribution and Textiles of India, to make some remarks.

PIYUSH GOYAL: Thank you. Your Excellency, Honourable Prime Minister Mr. Scott Morrison, Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, my friend Minister Tehan. India and Australia are natural partners connected by shared values of democracy, rule of law and transparency. Like two brothers, both nations supported each other during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our relationship rests on the pillars of trust and reliability aptly reflected in our deepening geostrategic engagement through the Quad and the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative. Today is a historic day for our ties as we sign the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement, IndAusECTA. In a way, it started when Prime Minister Shri Modi visited Australia in 2014 and I remember his words, "Australia will not be at the periphery of our vision, but at the centre of our thought". I see a great future of partnership between India and Australia and a shared commitment to realise it. Recently the leaders met virtually for the Ind-Aus Summit and within ten days we are here to witness the signing of the IndAusECTA. I'm grateful to our leaders who guided and motivated us to complete the agreement in a truly cooperative spirit, understanding each other's sensitivities. My deep sense of appreciation goes out to both teams for their outstanding work. Given the time difference between the two nations, the negotiations would run into late nights with either side remaining awake on many an occasion. The IndAusECTA would remove barriers to trade and will open a plethora of opportunities in both goods and services for both nations. It is expected that the bilateral trade would go from the existing $27 billion to nearly $45 to $50 billion over the next five years. There is huge potential in areas like textiles, pharmaceuticals, hospitality, gem and jewellery, and IT, amongst others, creating huge employment in both countries. I am confident that this multifaceted and forward looking IndAusECTA will take our ties to greater heights. Thank you very much. Namaste.

SPEAKER: The document will now be signed by Minister Tehan and Minister Goyal. I will now invite Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of India Shri Narendra Modi to make some remarks.

SHRI NARENDRA MODI: Prime Minister Morrison, Trade Ministers of Australia and India and friends from both countries who are here with us today, namaskar. I am meeting my friend Scott for the third time in less than a month. Last week we had very productive discussions during our virtual summit. We had instructed our teams at the time to conclude talks very soon on the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement and I am very pleased that this important agreement has been signed today. I warmly congratulate both the trade ministers and their officials for this extraordinary achievement. I would also like to especially commend Australia's former Prime Minister, presently Prime Minister Morrison's trade envoy, Tony Abbott. It is thanks to his efforts that this process could be accelerated. Friends, the fact that we were able to agree on such an important agreement in such a short time shows how much mutual trust there is between both countries. This is truly a watershed moment for our bilateral relations. There is immense potential for our economies to fulfill each other's needs. I am confident that this agreement will enable us to benefit fully from these opportunities. On the basis of this agreement, we will together be able to contribute to increasing the resilience of supply chains and to the stability of the Indo-Pacific region. Friends, people to people relations are an important pillar of India Australia friendship. This agreement will facilitate exchanges of students, professionals, and tourists between us and this in turn will further strengthen our relations once again. I congratulate the teams of both countries for their effective and successful negotiations on the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement. The IndAusECTA, which in Hindi means endorse unity. My heartfelt thanks to Prime Minister Morrison for being present at this event and my best wishes for the successful organisation of the upcoming elections in Australia. My best wishes also to Australia's women's cricket team for the World Cup finals being played tomorrow. Namaskar.

SPEAKER: I will now invite the Prime Minister of Australia, the Honorable Scott Morrison MP, to make some remarks.

SCOTT MORRISON: Your Excellency, my dear and trusted friend Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to Minister Goyal and to Minister Tehan, namaste, but also g'day from here in Launceston in the island state of Tasmania. I feel it's a very timely and relevant place for me to be because this is the home of crayfish, of sheep meat, of our wool, and the many other berries and other things that form part of this agreement. I'm so pleased to be able to join you here from Tasmania today. As Prime Minister Modi mentioned, it was only last week that we were meeting as part of a very productive annual virtual summit. But this was, of course, not the first time we've met on many, many occasions. And I go back to 2014, where I had the good fortune to be seated next to Prime Minister Modi, then Prime Minister, when I was then the Immigration Minister, and it was Prime Minister Abbott who introduced us on that day back in 2014. And I also want to join with Prime Minister Modi in extending my thanks to the former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, when it comes to the agreement that we've been able to reach on this day. I said then at our virtual summit last week that the pace and scale of our cooperation since we announced our comprehensive strategic partnership has been remarkable, some 282 million in new initiatives that my government has announced, including at the summit, which will drive our expanding cooperation. This is the single largest Australian government investment in our relationship with India, but it won't be the last. And now we mark another milestone in that relationship, the signing of the Ind-Aus Agreement, the Australia India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement. This agreement further develops on the promise of our economic relationship, realises it will facilitate cheaper Australian goods to India wool, horticulture, coal, LNG, amongst many others, supporting India's economic growth and development. It will unlock deeper cooperation in critical minerals and rare earths, which I know is an area of increasing importance to India's growing manufacturing sector and a very common topic of our discussions as part of the Quad Leaders dialogue, which I share with Prime Minister Modi. And it will further deepen the warm and close ties between our people by delivering increased work, study, and travel opportunities. Importantly, it sends a powerful signal to our businesses and investors alike that one of the biggest doors is now open to a great economic partnership, two dynamic regional economies, like-minded democracies working together for mutual benefit. It also delivers a clear message that democracies are working together and ensuring the security and resilience of our supply chains. I very much want to commend both of our ministers, Minister Goyal and Minister Tehan, and the many officials for their great work and their impressive efforts in securing this outcome. I thank also our High Commissioner Barry O'Farrell who was sent as our High Commissioner by myself, as a dear and close friend to be our ambassador, to my dear and close friend, Prime Minister Modi. I welcome our agreement today as a first step towards full comprehensive economic cooperation agreement between our two great nations by the end of the year and I thank you for your commitment and perseverance in securing this great achievement. I thank you also Prime Minister for your kind wishes in relation to the women's World Cup and we look forward to continuing great friendly competition, but when it comes to our economies, we are very much on the same team — same team pursuing the economic advancement for both of our peoples. I'm jealous of only one thing and that was I wasn't able to be at that what sounded like a very nice lunch in New Delhi between our ministers and I look forward to being able to join Prime Minister Modi hopefully in the not-too-distant future where we can speak again, but this time face to face.

SPEAKER: Thank you, that concludes the signing ceremony.

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