India and Australia’s early harvest trade deal is expected to materialise by the end of 2021, said Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne ahead of the “two-plus-two” dialogue between the two countries’ foreign and defence ministers scheduled to take place on September 11.

The talk is likely to push for India’s nuclear sector as Australia is a member of the small Like-Minded Group of NSG members and has been supporting India’s admission to the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Earlier today, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met his Australian counterpart Peter Dutton to boost overall bilateral strategic ties.

The bilateral cooperation cover sectors like maritime cooperation, defence science exchanges, mutual logistics support, cooperation in cyber-enabled critical technology, critical and strategic materials, water resources management, vocational education and training, as well as public administration and governance.

Bilateral trade between India and Australia stands at around US$ 20 billion annually. Negotiations on a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) have made good progress, with an Early Harvest Agreement as an interim goal.

At the ministerial dialogue, the two sides are also expected to discuss ways to boost cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in the face of China’s growing military assertiveness in the region, diplomatic sources said.

Both India and Australis are members of the Quad or Quadrilateral coalition that aims to work towards ensuring a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal, in August, said that India is likely to finalise mini trade deals with Australia and UK and hopes to conclude a similar deal with Canada.

In June last year, India and Australia elevated their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership and signed a landmark deal for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support during an online summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.