CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA — Australia’s parliament approved bilateral free trade agreements with India and the United Kingdom on Tuesday, leaving it up to these partner nations to implement the agreements.
The deals are crucial for Australia to diversify its exports from the troubled Chinese market to India and Britain’s need to forge new bilateral trade ties since leaving the European Union.
The bills easily passed the House of Representatives on Monday and the Senate signed them into law on Tuesday.
The agreements must be ratified by the respective British and Indian parliaments before they come into force. Neither nation has yet done so.
Commerce Secretary Don Farrell said that India had demonstrated its commitment to bilateral economic cooperation with the quality of the agreement reached.
“Closer economic ties with India are an important part of the government’s trade diversification strategy,” Farrell said.
Farrell said the UK deal was “critical to furthering our growth.”
Under the agreement between Australia and the UK, more than 99% of Australia’s merchandise exports will be duty-free, including mutton, beef, dairy, sugar and wine.
Tariffs on 90% of Australian goods exported to India, including meat, wool, cotton, seafood, nuts and avocados, will also be removed.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese discussed the deals with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week on the sidelines of a 20-nation summit in Indonesia.
Albanese said he would visit India in March to deliver the agreement signed in April.
The UK deal was signed in December by then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration and has been criticized by his successor for not delivering more results for Britain.
The agreements would enter into force 30 days after countries have notified each other in writing that the supporting legislation has been approved by their national parliaments.
Alnanese and his ministers on Tuesday welcomed Nzogi Okonjo-Iweala, the Secretary General of the International Trade Office, to the capital Canberra.
Farrell said topics of discussion with Okonjo-Iweala included how to implement the outcome of the World Trade Organization conference in June.
The WTO reached a series of agreements and commitments in June aimed at protecting marine fish stocks, ramping up production of COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries, improving food security and reforming the 27-year-old trade body that has gone back in time. heels in recent years.