Australia, India to expedite trade agreement

18 November 2014

The prime ministers of India and Australia have underlined their commitment to implementing agreements that will enable Australian uranium to be exported to India.

Modi and Abbott meet at Parliament House in Canberra (Image: PM of India)

A joint statement issued by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Australian prime minister Tony Abbott during Modi's official visit to Australia recognised energy as a central pillar of the economic relationship between the two nations. The statement noted that the two premiers had agreed to "expedite progress towards early conclusion of the administrative arrangements" necessary for implementation of the civil nuclear agreement signed in September. "Australian supply of uranium in coming years will enhance India’s energy security," the statement noted.

Addressing the Australian parliament, Abbott said that the AUD 15 billion ($13 billion) worth of business between Australia and India in 2013 "hardly" did justice to the two countries' potential. "We want to be a dependable source of energy security, of resource security and of food security for India," he said.

In his own statement to the press, Modi said that early closure on the agreement would give Australia "a chance to participate in one of the most secure and safe nuclear energy programme in the world."

India has an ambitious nuclear power program but few indigenous uranium resources, while Australia is one of the world's largest uranium producers and exporters. As India is not a signatory of the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), for many years it was effectively isolated from world nuclear trade. In 2008, the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group decided to exempt India from its rule of prohibiting trade with non-members of the NPT following India's signature of a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Although India has already signed bilateral agreements with the USA, Russia, France, the UK, South Korea and Canada, as well as Argentina, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Namibia, Australia's policy on uranium exports to India has taken longer to overturn.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News