Council posts new reference points

Venkat Raman

It is easy to get excited over business prospects in India but the country is not a ‘one-hit-wonder,” the leader of a top professional body has warned.

Indian New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) Chairman Sunil Kaushal said that continuous and coordinated efforts were required to succeed in the world’s fastest growing economy.

‘People-to-People and business-to-business interaction needs to deepen, while the reliance on the two governments for facilitating business growth has to reduce. Private initiatives and one-to-one-relationship will help,” he said, speaking at the Business Summit 2015, organised by the Council on March 13, 2015.

More than 350 businesses, including about 50 businesses from India participated in this impressive and successful one-day conference held at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Auckland.

Leaders speak

It also brought together Prime Minister John Key, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, Energy & Resources Minister Simon Bridges, Associate Trade Minister Todd McClay, Auckland Mayor Len Brown, Indian High Commissioner Ravi Thapar and a number of dignitaries from India including Nandan Nilekani, Dr Reuben Abraham, Ajay Shriram and Chadrajit Banerjee (CII).

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Mr Kaushal said that India imported 1.22 million metric tonnes of coal from New Zealand in 2013 and that ONGC Videsh, the overseas arm of India’s biggest exploration company (ONGC Ltd) was granted an exploration permit last year.

“It is our firm belief that only when businesses in both countries take initiative towards solidifying their business to business and people to people links, that policy makers will see the need to look over the minor issues and towards the larger good,” he said.

Enormous potential

Mr Key underscored the need to tap the enormous business and trading prospects between the two countries.

“What India says and what India does, matters, unlike some countries. There is no question that there are massive opportunities for New Zealand companies. This is a year of opportunity for the relationship, not least because the Cricket World Cup beamed images of New Zealand into tens of millions of Indian homes,” he said.

Speakers at the Summit deliberating on the theme, ‘Growing with India: Inspire-Innovate-Grow,’ emphasised the need for businesses and people to connect to help growth of trade between the two countries.

“India and New Zealand have already established themselves as reliable trading partners; India is New Zealand’s 6th largest market with the value of trade between the two countries touching $1.6 billion in 2014,” they said.

Annual Meetings

Mr Kaushal and Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) President Ajay Shriram suggested that the Business Summit should be held in both countries annually and that the gathering should be used to launch partnerships.

Indian Newslink understands that a similar Summit will be held in Delhi in September.

CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee proposed the establishment of a core committee of business leaders to facilitate and monitor potential areas of partnerships.

Expanding economy

According to INZBC, India’s GDP is set to grow by 7% over the next five years and balloon to become US$ 2.1 trillion.

“The country’s middle class population would account for 300 million and about 65% of the people would be below 35 years old. India will hold 28% of the world’s workforce by 2025, attracting businesses in agriculture, food processing and related industries, telecommunications, healthcare, electronic hardware, education and training, the last of which will contribute about US$2.8 billion annually to the economy.”

According to Mr McClay, New Zealand’s business with India is limited to commodity and forestry, but wings of change are blowing.

“Over the past few decades, our trade profile has changed. Asia is now the area of focus,” he said.

Dr Reuben Abraham, Chief Executive Officer of Indian think-tank IDFC Institute, a key speaker at the Conference, advised businesses to meet Chief Ministers and senior bureaucrats of various States, instead of focusing on the Union Government in Delhi.

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