Economic cooperation agreement with India by year-end: Australian minister

Chennai, Oct 28 (IANS) Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) and a nuclear cooperation agreement between Australia and India were expected to be inked by this year-end, Australian Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb said on Wednesday.

Australia was also open to allowing Indian companies to mine uranium and export it, he told reporters here. Robb said India’s Adani group had already been allowed to mine coal in Australia and ship it out.

He said two Canadian companies were at present mining uranium in Australia.

Asked when the first shipment of Australian uranium to India would happen, Robb pointed out that the nuclear cooperation agreement with India was to be concluded before 2015-end.

Shipments of uranium from Australia to India would happen thereafter, he said.

In September 2014, Australia and India signed a civil nuclear agreement to facilitate supply of uranium from Australia to the country.

As for the regulatory status of Adani group’s coal mining project, Robb said all regulatory clearances were issued by the Australian government though the project was being opposed by some green groups.

Asked about Australia’s focus on coal mining and exports, which in turn contributes to global warming, Robb said solar power was costly.

Admitting to global warming, the Australian minister said traditional sources of energy – coal, oil and gas – would be essential for the next 70 years.

Asked about the long-pending CECA with India, the visiting minister said it took his country 10 years to conclude an agreement with China and nine years with Japan and South Korea.

Robb said Australia had a lot to offer to India in the services sector as 75 percent of its gross domestic product was contributed by this sector.

Apart from expertise in legal and financial areas, Australia can offer its expertise in the fields of education, diary farming, fisheries, aquaculture, agriculture, port and others.

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