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Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement

Australia-India ECTA benefits for Australian service suppliers and professionals

The Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA) will create new opportunities for Australian services suppliers and professionals doing business in India. The AI-ECTA will provide unprecedented access into the world’s fastest growing major economy and Australia's third largest services export market.

India has guaranteed Australian services suppliers in 31 sectors and subsectors the equivalent to the best treatment accorded to its future FTA partners, meaning Australian suppliers will always receive India’s best market access given in the future to any country. Sectors that will benefit from these arrangements include:

  • higher education and adult education
  • business services (tax, medical and dental, architectural and urban planning)
  • research and development
  • communication, construction and engineering
  • insurance, banking
  • hospital, audiovisual and tourism and travel.

India’s commitments to Australia in the AI-ECTA will provide enhanced mobility and certainty for Australian suppliers of services to Indian businesses and consumers across a range of sectors. These include:

  • distribution services commitments include market access for single-brand retailing and franchising, as well as clear rules regarding wholesale distribution. The rules relating to distribution services, including for agricultural raw products, food products, furniture and household goods, will improve predictability for providers around the products they can distribute and under what conditions.
  • financial service commitments including greater certainty and transparency regarding the rules that will apply when providing services in country to improve their ability to operate in India. A foreign equity limit of 49 per cent for commercial presence across a range of banking and insurance services will be locked-in, allowing Australian businesses opportunities to expand their portfolio.
  • telecommunications service commitments on electronic data interchange and internet and infrastructure services. Australian businesses will benefit from non-discriminatory treatment and greater regulatory transparency. Australian internet services businesses in India will also have more opportunities to expand their portfolio with a foreign equity limit of 74 per cent for commercial presence across the sector.

Services professionals and mobility for services suppliers to India

India has agreed to implement a framework to facilitate the mutual recognition of qualifications, licensing and registration procedures between professional services bodies. Australian professionals such as architects, engineers, and accountants will benefit as this framework will help improve the recognition of professional qualifications, and promote two-way mobility.

Australian skilled service providers, investors and business visitors will gain from certainty in access into India, supporting investment and providing business with increased certainty. Australian businesses in India will have greater clarity on visa application procedures including periods of stay and other conditions.

In addition, India will provide a reciprocal work-based immigration route for Australians who successfully complete their studies and who wish to supplement their training with professional experience in India, to open up greater opportunities post-study.

Services professionals and mobility for services suppliers in Australia

Australia has agreed to provide India with mobility outcomes consistent with existing visa and commitments made in our previous free trade agreements. This includes equivalent commitments on categories of entrant, length of stay, spouses and dependents, but does not include a waiver of labour market testing. Current sponsorship requirements for employers who want to hire overseas workers will remain after the AI-ECTA enters into force.

Reflecting the importance of Australia's education exports to India, Australia has for the first time confirmed post-study work rights in a side letter to a free trade agreement and will extend access for highly sought after STEM graduates. Australia will maintain opportunities for former Indian students to live, study and work temporarily upon completion of a diploma or trade qualification (up to 18 months), bachelor degree (up to two years), masters degrees (up to three years) or doctoral degree (up to four years). An additional year will be available for Indians who graduate with bachelor degrees in STEM and ICT with First Class Honors (from two to three years).

Australia will also provide new access for young Indians to participate in working holidays in Australia. Places in Australia's Work and Holiday program will be set at 1,000 per year and Australia will have two years to implement the outcome in this new location. The outcome is expected to contribute to both workforce requirements and to tourism in the post-COVID recovery.

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