A Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) between Australian and India is an opportunity for both countries to grow and prosper in the coming decades with aligned economic and trade interests. The CECA negotiations, which are currently underway, aim at liberalising trade in goods and services besides creating a level-playing field to boost investments. Also, other mega regional trade deals; the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership of Asia and the Pacific (RCEP), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), once concluded and implemented, are expected to set the stage for a new generation of global trade and investment rules.
The newer agreements tend to open new markets for goods and services, increase investment opportunities, make trade faster and cheaper and thus in turn leads to deeper coverage. A comprehensive CECA agreement is expected to address tariff barriers and behind the border restrictions on trade in goods; facilitate growth in services trade and encourage investment by reducing barriers, increasing transparency and enhancing Investment protections.
In this context, NCAER in conjunction with the East Asian Bureau of Economic Research (EABER), Australian National University took the opportunity to examine India’s and Australia’s trade strategies and how CECA will impact them over the next few years. The dialogue provided a platform for expert interactions over a broad range of issues including the prospects for India’s services sector and the domestic & trade and investment reforms needed. Panellists also discussed on how openness in agricultural markets can improve economic outcomes while protecting the welfare of rural households and consumer. The participants included senior government officials, economic researchers and academicians. The concluding roundtable on international, economic reforms & policy review discussed on the domestic reform agenda facing the Modi government and the ways in which India can leverage its international economic engagement to drive the reform process. It also considered the Australian experience of trade liberalisation and domestic reform, with particular reference to independent policy review mechanisms such as the Productivity Commission.