New Delhi: In a bid to fast track talks for the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA), India and Australia are likely to hold the next round of negotiations in April.
     
"The next round of negotiations are scheduled to take place in April in Australia. There has been a discussion on exchange on goods offer and now exchange in services and investments would take place," Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson said.
     
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 FTA negotiations were started in 2011. So far, four rounds of negotiations including the exchange of goods offers have taken place.
     
Sharma said: "No deadlines have been set but there is a commitment that we will have an ambitious and balanced FTA."
     
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.
     
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.
     
Besides, the two ministers reaffirmed their commitment to finding ways to break through the current impasse in the Doha Round of World Trade Organisation negotiations, the release said.
     
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.

(Agencies)

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