NEW DELHI: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Friday in New Delhi that Australia and India have decided to advance a more comprehensive economic cooperation and strengthen their defence ties.

The Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), the first free trade agreement between India and a developed nation in ten years, was signed by the two nations last year.

Yet, discussions for the considerably bigger Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) have dragged on for more than ten years. The nations’ negotiations resumed in 2011, but they were put on hold in 2016 due to a deadlock.

A settlement has yet to be reached despite the fact that negotiations began in 2021.

Albanese, who is on a three-day visit to India, told reporters, “We also agreed on an early completion of our ambitious Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement as soon as possible and I am hoping that we will be able to finalise it this year.

“This game-changing agreement will realise the full potential of the two countries’ economic relationships, generating new job opportunities and boosting living standards for both Australians and Indians,” says the statement.

India claims that under the ECTA, bilateral commerce between the two nations, which was $27.5 billion in 2021, has the potential to almost quadruple to $50 billion in five years.

Via the Quad group, which also includes the United States and Japan, India and Australia are security allies.

According to Albanese, defence and security cooperation between Australia and India has improved in a “major and ambitious” way. Climate change problems have also been highlighted.

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