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Home / News / World /  Tony Abbott named Australia PM Morison’s special trade envoy for India

New Delhi: Australia has appointed its former prime minister Tony Abbott as Prime Minister Scott Morison’s special trade envoy for India to deepen trade and investment links that will help drive post-covid recovery.

A statement from the Australian High Commission in New Delhi said Abbott would be in India from 2-6 August to discuss among other issues the building of “secure and resilient supply chains."

Noting that the Australia-India bilateral relationship was at “a historic high," Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Barry O'Farrell recalled that in 2020, “Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and Prime Minister Morrison elevated our relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership."

The two countries had at their virtual summit last year “also committed to strengthening our economic relationship," Farrell said.

“Australia is keen to deepen our trade and investment links with India, and take our economic relationship to the next level," he said adding “increasing bilateral trade and investment will help drive economic recovery from the covid-19 pandemic, and build secure and resilient supply chains."

To boost trade and economic linkages, Morison had appointed Tony Abbott as his special trade envoy for India to progress that important agenda, the high commissioner said.

Abbott’s presence in India from 2-6 August is aimed at energizing the bilateral economic relationship, he said.

“In particular, Mr Abbott looks forward to discussions on the India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, which will propel our economic relationship to its full potential, to the mutual benefit of the Indian and Australian people," he added.

India and Australia, in conjunction with Japan, have already begun talks to counter China’s dominance of supply chain in the Indo-Pacific region. In April, trade ministers of the three countries formally launched the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) in a virtual trilateral ministerial meeting.

Australia has been looking for new trade allies in a bid to reduce its economic dependence on China following a serious spat last year after Canberra supported Washington’s call for a probe into the origins of the covid-19 pandemic. The move riled China whose ties with Australia were already frayed after Canberra barred Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE from pitching gear and technology for Australian 5G networks in 2018. China retaliated with bans on Australian beef and wine and high tariffs on barley.

There have been some news reports of India and Australia looking at resuming free trade talks after a lull of a few years. This comes in the wake of India looking at stitching up trade pacts with the European Union and the UK.

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