Interview with Natarsha Belling, Sunrise

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Free trade deal with India.
02 April 2022

NATARSHA BELLING: Australia will today sign a trade deal with India worth tens of billions of dollars to Australian exporters. Joining us live with the details is the federal Trade Minister, Dan Tehan. Good morning, Minister. Thanks for joining us. Will this deal fill the void, the huge void, left by China?

DAN TEHAN: Well, this is going to help our exporters in an enormous way. A market of 1.2 billion, it's the fastest growing economy in the world – the largest economy – in the world. We see tariffs slashed as a result of this deal. It will help our wine exporters. It will help our sheep exporters, our wool exporters, lentils, citrus growers. This is a big, big deal for Australia. India was very keen to work with us to achieve it. They wanted it called a unity agreement, and that's what we've got, a substantial free trade agreement with the world's largest fastest growing economy.

NATARSHA BELLING Minister, incredibly important to provide much needed support for Australian exporters. But there are a lot of valid questions this morning about why Australia is doing a deal with India when they will not condemn the outrageous invasion by Russia of Ukraine.

DAN TEHAN: Well, India has called for peace, and that's something that the world is calling for at the moment. But we've also got to make sure that we are doing what we can to help our position in the Indo-Pacific. And it's incredibly important that we continue to work with India, the world's largest democracy, to make sure that we're getting the Indo-Pacific environment, which is rules based, all countries working together, to make it free and open. And that's why this is such an historic deal and why we continue to work with India in forums like the Quad to ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep our region safe. And this deal is historic. We've been working on it for eleven years, and to get it at this time is incredibly important.

NATARSHA BELLING: But, Minister, you talked earlier about unity. Surely the world and western nations have to be unified in their condemnation of Russia. And this isn't a good look. Even this morning, Russia's foreign minister has praised India for their neutral stance on the invasion.

DAN TEHAN: Well, India, obviously, have their own unique geostrategic environment. They've got China on one border, they've got a nuclear-armed Pakistan on another border, so they have to make sure that they're doing what they can to protect and keep themselves safe. But we're working with them through this deal to bring our economies closer together. We're also working with them in the Quad. And there is a clear understanding that democracies around the world continue to need to unite to deal with these autocracies. And building that closer partnership with India is absolutely vital for us at this time.

NATARSHA BELLING: So would you call on India to condemn the invasion of Ukraine, Minister?

DAN TEHAN: Well, what we want to do is support India's call for peace. And the best way that we can get peace is by Russia to withdraw from Ukraine. Everyone understands that the provocateur is Russia here and if we're going to get peace, they need to withdraw. So we do want peace. We support that call for peace and we support the call for the best way for that to be done is for Russia to withdraw immediately from Ukraine. What they're doing is illegal, is against the UN charter, and is abhorrent.

NATARSHA BELLING: Minister, thanks so much for joining us.

DAN TEHAN: A pleasure.

Media enquiries