India and Australia will launch talks on a ''high quality" free trade agreement (FTA) next week and have agreed on a joint feasibility study to remove impediments to bilateral trade. Officials of both countries are expected to meet in New Delhi next week.
''The FTA study will consider the feasibility of a comprehensive WTO-consistent agreement covering trade in goods, services and investment," Australian trade minister Simon Crean said, adding, the study on tariff liberalisation and removal of other impediments to trade is expected to be completed next year.
The study is aimed at bringing the FTA to a stronger level of economic partnership between the two countries. FTAs, he said, can be used to bring considerable mutual economic benefits as increased trade creates more jobs and investment and enhances the pace of growth-creating economic reform.
Cool! We could do the same, eh?
Oh, no; we can't.
Because, of course, we do not control our own trade policy: it is an EU competence. So, no matter how much we may want free trade with India, we can't get it unless the European Commission thinks it's a good idea.
Then, of course, they will send twice-disgraced Peter Mandelson—the EU Trade Commissioner—to India to negotiate on behalf of all of the EU countries. And if one of the 27 countries—France, for instance—doesn't like it, then we're fucked.
Can we leave yet?