India and Australia will launch formal negotiations for a comprehensive market opening pact as the two look to double bilateral trade to $40 billion, from the current $20 billion, over the next five years.
The two countries plan to hold the first round of free-trade talks in New Delhi in the next two months.
"It was agreed that the first meeting for this purpose would be scheduled by June or July," minister of commerce and industry Anand Sharma said.
Addressing a joint press conference with Australian trade minister Craig Emerson, Sharma said the two countries expect bilateral trade to double from $20 billion at present to $40 billion over the next five years.
Sharma, who is on a three-day official visit to Australia, stressed India's interest in building long-term relationship with Australia, especially in areas of mutual interest such as mineral resources, agriculture and clean energy.
Sharma also held substantive talks with Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd, minister for agriculture, forest and fisheries Senator Joe Ludwig, minister for resources, energy and tourism Martin Ferguson, minister for defence Stephen Smith and minister for regional Australia, regional development and local government Simon Crean.