It is a list of free trade agreements between two parties in which each party could be a country (or another customs territory), a trade bloc or an informal group of countries. After eight years of negotiations, Canberra and New Delhi have been unable to clarify the details of a free trade agreement. The People`s Republic of China has bilateral trade agreements with the blocs, countries and their two specific administrative regions: The Joint Australian and Indian Government Task Force has completed its feasibility study on the possible free trade agreement between the two countries. India and Australia negotiated in May 2011, but discussions were suspended in 2015 due to differences of opinion on issues such as Australia`s requested access to the agriculture and dairy market. “If Australia takes a flexible approach to milk and agriculture and is prepared to take into account some of our interests in the service sector, including simpler rules on visas for workers, a free trade pact can certainly be developed,” said the official. Despite the absence of a comprehensive trade agreement and the notoriously high trade barriers and the weak ease of trade in India, trade between the two countries has recently expanded, from $9.3 billion in 2007 to $20.8 billion in 2018. But this is a far cry from the expansionary growth that Australia is hoping for, as it tries to diversify its economy beyond over-reliance on China and is also trying to strengthen bilateral relations with India. “Both India and Australia are ready to see if the work we have done bilaterally on the RCEP could be recorded between the two countries. We asked our officials to look at this,” Birmingham said in a media briefing after his meeting with Goyal. In the last round of negotiations, Australia`s agricultural exports were seen as a sensitive issue between the two countries, with democratic calculations by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) playing an important role in preventing agreements. More than half of India`s jobs are related to agriculture, and although the sector is highly inefficient, both in production and distribution – leading to frequent price spikes such as those that have hit the onions recently – no political party has the will to open up the sector to increased competition or even reform, even if the long-term benefits were considerable. This political reality indicates that Australia is unlikely to achieve favourable status for its agricultural products when negotiations resume.
Moreover, a deep suspicion of trade is an intrinsic feature of the nationalist nationalism advocated by the BJP. The party`s ideological fountain, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), sees trade liberalization as a threat to Indian identity, and its economic understanding remains linked to Swadeshi`s idea of self-sufficiency by prioritizing indigenous products made exclusively from Indian production lines. The organization`s economic wing recently protested for ten days against India`s participation in the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade framework being negotiated between the ten ASEAN countries and Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. India`s concerns remain an obstacle to reaching an agreement for all the countries concerned (the talks are expected to resume on 1 November). Trade Minister Steve Ciobo recently held a pause and review of the government`s bilateral trade agreement with India. While India has difficulty accepting the liberalized trade standards of most Western countries, it is also not in an economic context. In response to India`s economic strategy, published last year, the Indian government has commissioned an Australian reciprocal economic strategy, which is expected to be published before the end of the year.