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India, Australia Discuss Pharma Pricing, Critical Minerals in Trade Talks

India and Australia have already signed an Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) that came into effect on December 29, 2022…reports Asian Lite News

India has discussed the issues of pharmaceutical pricing control in generic drugs and the need for closer cooperation in critical minerals with Australia, the Union Commerce Ministry said on Saturday.

The need for closer collaboration for establishing disease-free zones for shrimps and prawns in India also came up for discussion at the first Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) in Canberra under the India-Australia Economic Co-operation and Trade Agreement (Ind-Aus ECTA), the ministry said.

Besides, the JCM meeting also addressed certain critical services issues, including the consideration of India’s request for facilitation of cross-border e-payments and mutual recognition of qualifications in professions like nursing and dentistry.

India and Australia are looking at joint investments to build new supply chains underpinned by critical minerals processed in Australia that will help India’s plans to lower emissions from its electricity network and become a global manufacturing hub, for electric vehicles and smartphones.

Critical minerals are a key raw material in these hi-tech products. Currently, China has a near-monopoly on critical minerals. India and Australia are both keen to set up a strong alternative supply chain to break China’s dominance of the market.

“The two sides have decided to work closely on timely resolution of market access issues, deepen people-to-people contacts, and create an institutional mechanism for sharing of preferential import data,” according to the ministry statement.

India and Australia have already signed an Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) that came into effect on December 29, 2022.

“Both sides while acknowledging the smooth implementation of the ECTA, briefly elaborated on ECTA implementation issues including MRAs (mutual recognition agreements) on organic products, market access issues related to products like okra, pomegranate, grapes, cottage cheese, .pharmaceutical pricing control in Australia particularly on generics, progress made by the working group on whisky and wine,” the ministry said.

The meeting also touched upon the WTO issues wherein both sides appreciated the Commerce Secretary’s stand on the importance of the support of Australia for early resolution of the long pending issue of a permanent solution to public stock holding (PSH).

Australia sought the support of India for the plurilateral arrangement for domestic support for services. Both sides agreed to discuss these matters intersessionally if required.

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