NEW DELHI: In a bid to fast track the bilateral engagement between two nations, the 14th Session of the India - Australia Joint Ministerial Commission convened in New Delhi on 29 January, 2013.
The Commission was co-chaired by Shri Anand Sharma, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles, India and the Dr. Craig Emerson MP, Australian Minister for Trade and Competitiveness and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy.
Sharma and Emerson emphasised the importance of closer trade and investment relations as a critical component of the strategic partnership. The Ministers underlined the importance of a solid institutional framework to facilitate future growth in bilateral trade and investment.
According to the joint statement, Sharma and Emerson also reiterated that a comprehensive, equitable agreement would broaden the base of merchandise trade, remove non-tariff barriers that impede trade in services, facilitate and encourage investments.
Expressing disappointment that it had not been possible to conclude Doha Development Agenda to date, they agreed on the importance of moving the process forward, particularly in the current global economic environment. They agreed on the need to resist rising protectionist pressures, it said.
Sharma said Australia and India work closer in WTO and are seriously looking at how to have a meaningful outcome of the ninth Ministerial Conference scheduled in Bali this year.
"But before that we will have an opportunity to meet, particularly the key stakeholders (ministers), so that we can take the process forward," he said.
"There has been a regular exchange and I can share with you that our ambassadors in Geneva will seriously engage in as we prepare the agenda subsequently. We will also be looking engaging the two key interlocutors..," he added.
The Ministers welcomed the growth in the bilateral investment relationship and agreed on the importance of strong bilateral investment flows particularly in priority areas such as mining, advanced manufacturing, infrastructure, clean technology and tourism.
Both the countries will bring negotiations to conclusion as quickly as possible to have a balanced agreement, he told reporters here after the 14th Australia-India Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) meeting with Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma.
The Ministers warmly welcomed the success of Oz Fest, Australia's largest ever cultural festival in India including educational and business events in 18 locations all over India.
The direct flights between India and Australia would provide a further boost to bilateral engagement and agreed that the next Joint Ministerial Commission will be held in Australia in 2014, Ministers stated.
During 2011-12, the bilateral trade stood at about USD 18 billion and the two countries had set a target to increase it to USD 40 billion by 2016.