Australian Trade and Tourism minister Dan Tehan explained why beef and dairy products had been left out of the historic trade agreement (IA ECTA) between India and Australia.
India and Australia recently signed an interim trade agreement which is expected to raise bilateral trade from the present USD 26-27 billion to USD 100 billion by 2030.
While sectors like textiles, pharma, hospitality, gems and jewellery, and IT are celebrating the trade agreement, some industries are disappointed for not being included.
Australia’s dairy and the beef industry have expressed disappointment over the trade agreement.
Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) chair Rick Gladigau said, “The dairy industry supports the government’s aim to deliver a comprehensive trade agreement with India, a key economic partner.
However, an agreement, interim or otherwise, that does not include market access gains for dairy is a disappointing outcome. It is regrettable that a substantial industry such as dairy should be largely left off the table in trade negotiations.”
Why were these sectors left out?
Australian Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan explained why these sectors were not included in the trade agreement.
Speaking to Indian origin journalists, the minister said, “Obviously, there are sensitivities around anything to do with cows with India, so that’s something that we obviously had to take account of.”
“India still has a very large agricultural sector. There are, I think, about 160 million farmers in India, and so one of the things Piyush Goyal and myself talked about was where there were sensitivities, how we would work through them. And we wanted to make sure that we got an outcome and so given the sacred status of the cow in India, we left beef and dairy out of this interim agreement.”
Beef has become an increasingly contentious issue in India after the Narendra Modi government took over in 2014. The supporters of the Hindu nationalist party BJP have attacked beef shops and traders in several states. In 2015, a mob of villagers attacked the home of 52-year-old Mohammed Akhlaq, killing him for suspicion of slaughtering a cow.
Many states, including Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, have introduced laws banning cow slaughter. However, only Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram have no cow slaughter laws.
India’s Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, who is on a 3-day visit to Australia, says few sectors will see exceptional growth.
“Let’s see some more Tasmania lobsters in New Delhi possibly, or wine from South Australia coming down into Indian shelves; we’ll probably have a lot more Bangaloreans coming down to Melbourne to serve you in your IT space, we’ll have a lot more jewellers from Prime Minister’s home state of Gujarat, from Surat coming down to sell their wares in the stores in Australia, lots to do together, lot of potential in different areas. I hope this partnership will grow, and we will all grow along with this partnership,” said the Commerce Minister