India and Australia plan to announce an early harvest trade deal by December, according to a joint statement released by the countries on Friday.

The harvest agreement will be the way forward for an early conclusion of a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) between both nations.

The statement comes a day after Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and his counterpart, Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan, had trade-related discussions over a video call.

So far, there have been three rounds of talks between the chief trade negotiators of both nations. “In this regard, the ministers directed officials to speed up negotiations and to meet as often as required to achieve an early harvest announcement by December 2021, on an interim agreement to liberalise and deepen bilateral trade in goods and services, and pave the way for a comprehensive agreement,” an official statement said.

The negotiations will take into consideration the views of business, industry, and other stakeholders, along with consultations on potential opportunities. The impact of an early harvest deal or an interim agreement before finalising the CECA will also be taken into account.

“The ministers look forward to a balanced trade agreement that encourages expanded trade and investment flows to the benefit of both of our economies and people, and which reflects their shared commitment to a rules-based international trading system,” an official statement said.

Last week, Goyal had said that India was revamping its free-trade strategy with its top trading partners, and is gearing up towards an ‘early harvest’ deal with countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom.

In the past, a trade deal with Australia had been put on hold because of a lack of consensus over various issues.

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