Former prime minister Tony Abbott is set to travel to India to advance the subcontinent’s economic and trade relations with Australia.
Abbott, Australia’s special trade envoy for India, will meet with business and government stakeholders to discuss a comprehensive strategic partnership progressing between the two countries.
The government has highlighted it has supported his travel to India, but will not remunerate Abbott for the work.
Prime minister Scott Morrison and India’s prime minister Narendra Modi announced a new comprehensive strategic partnership between the two nations last year, committing to expand trade and investment among other areas of cooperation.
Federal trade minister Dan Tehan and Piyush Goyal, India’s commerce and industry minister, relaunched negotiations earlier in the year over a Comprehensive Economic Co-Operation Agreement.
The governments had suspended earlier negotiations on the pact in 2015, and in September committed to reaching an interim agreement by December 2021. The ministers have foreshadowed a final agreement could be reached before the end of 2022.
The interim agreement covers goods, services, investment, energy and resources, logistics and transport, standards, rules of origin, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
India was Australia’s seventh biggest trading partner in 2020 and sixth biggest export destination with coal and education the major purchases.
Two-way trade in goods and services grew from $13.6 billion in 2007 to $24.3 billion in 2020, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.