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High hopes for India trade deal

AAP logoAAP 14/12/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Talks on a free trade deal between Australia and India are expected to ramp up in 2017.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull agreed to visit India next year when he met with Indian leader Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China in September.

Mr Turnbull told business leaders last month the government had "high hopes" of concluding the Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.

Treasurer Scott Morrison also spoke positively about the deal at a business conference in Sydney on Wednesday.

Australia India Business Council chairwoman Sheba Nandkeolyar told AAP it was expected the two governments would ramp up efforts to conclude the talks in 2017.

Negotiations were launched in May 2011 to seal an agreement to cut tariffs, improve trade in services and make it easier to invest.

Ms Nandkeolyar described the government commitment to the deal as "110 per cent at both ends".

She admitted the talks had been slow to progress, but that was not discouraging business leaders and government officials from building bridges.

"There are now two or three delegations from India to Australia every month," she said.

"These delegations are led by very senior people - ministers and secretaries of departments such as infrastructure, energy, industry and investment."

One of the biggest events in India in the new year will be the Vibrant Gujarat summit from January 10 to 13, which was begun by Mr Modi when he was chief minister of Gujarat.

A large Australian delegation will attend the summit.

The Australia India Business Council will also take the first-ever Australian women in business delegation to India next year, which is attracting a lot of interest.

India is keen to encourage Australian superannuation funds to invest in infrastructure and to work with firms with expertise in clean energy technology.

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