Australian Economy

australia: Australia eyes digital services pact with India

Australia is eyeing a pact on digital services as part of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with India as the two countries aim to upgrade the bilateral relationship. Watts was in India to attend the Bengaluru Tech Summit and represent Australia at the Third Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism Financing.

“Next on agenda is the comprehensive economic and trade agreement, and one of the things that we explore is digital services,” Tim Watts, Australia’s Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs told reporters here.

Australia is keen on improved access for service suppliers, and modern investor protection to increase investor confidence and drive investment, with appropriate safeguards for governments’ rights to regulate.

According to the Australian government’s India Economic Strategy to 2035, an agreement could facilitate digital trade by including modern and forward-looking rules that support the use of digital tools to enable trade.
Experts believe that the Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement would present a unique opportunity for the two countries to strengthen their digital trade relationship.

Both the countries can explore convergence in disciplines on digital trade facilitation, online consumer protection, cybersecurity, spam, artificial intelligence and look forward to creating a robust, trustworthy, and efficient framework for bilateral digital trade, stated a paper published in the ‘Journal of World Trade‘ by Andrew D Mitchell of Monash University and Neha Mishra of the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID).

The visiting minister said Australia and India had recently concluded the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement, which has been referred to the Australian Parliament for ratification.

“Only yesterday (Friday), that agreement was endorsed for parliamentary action by a joint committee. That will be legislated in Parliament in the coming months,” Watts said.

“We think that digital trade is a real worthwhile agenda because it is not just data but it underpins all trade. So, we can better facilitate trade across the board,” he said.

Watts also called on Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur.

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