We are at least talking of trade boost with India

Venkat Raman – 


New Zealand and India have spent almost ten years speaking about the need to get closer on economic cooperation and bilateral trade but statistics prove that the desire is yet to become reality.

While China has become our largest trading partner within this period, two-way merchandise exports and imports between New Zealand and India remains modest at about $1.2 billion and the much talked-about Free Trade Agreement (FTA) remains as distant it was in November 2007 when ‘serious intensions’ were expressed by both governments.

However, that does not mean, there are little or no opportunities to foster better ties with India governmental and non-governmental levels. New Zealand now has an opportunity to witness the transformation and resurgence of a young, confident and optimistic nation that will be the new hero in tomorrow’s global drama.

Our engagement with India is very timely and strategic.

Complex Economy

As we have always said, India is a complex country with diversity of views and needs and any dialogue on bilateral relations should take into account the ambitions of its teeming millions and the economy’s changing requirements.

Negotiators, diplomats and experts on India have often said that governments of either country should direct their energies in supporting private initiatives and encourage business-to-business relationship and people-to-people dialogue.

The federal government in New Delhi is promoting its new concept of ‘Make in India’ Programme, as a measure of not only increasing productivity but also becoming a global supplier of goods, in addition to services, which it has been providing through its engineering, software and consultancy skills.

PPP works

Public-Private Partnership also works, as evidenced in Auckland on February 11, 2016 when the India New Zealand Business Council organised a meeting enabling the Indian High Commission Charge de Affaires Sandeep Sood to speak about the ‘Make in India Week’ (marked in India from February 13 to 18, 2016).

A separate report of this event appears elsewhere in this issue.

India Trade Alliance (ITA) established about six months ago, created similar impact in January by forging relationships with a number of industry organisations in Delhi.

ITA General Secretary Sunil Kaushal signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) each with the Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry (ASSOCHAM) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

“ASSOCHAM has in its fold more than 400 Industry Chambers, Trade Associations and serves more than 450,000 Corporate Members from all over India. Speaking to its members, New Zealand High Commissioner Grahame Morton reiterated our government’s commitment to engage with India bilaterally, culturally, academically and in sporting relations,” Mr Kaushal said.

CII is India’s premier business association with more than 7100 members, from the private as well as public sectors, including multinationals and small and medium enterprises and an indirect membership of over 100,000 enterprises from around 240 national and regional sectoral industry bodies,” he added.

Common platform

ITA Chairman Giri Gupta claimed that his organisation has commenced 2016 strengthening links with these premier bodies.

“For New Zealand businesses to work closer with Indian counterparts, we need collaborative working relationships with businesses in India to establish a platform for Kiwi firms to engage at the business level,” he said.

Among those present at the MoU signing ceremony with CII were National Member of Parliament Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, New Zealand Trade Commissioner (North India) Jane Cunliffe.

While in India, Mr Kaushal also met senior Indian officials at External Affairs and Trade Ministries, including Foreign Secretary Dr S Jaishankar, Trade Negotiator Arvind Mehta and Joint Secretary (South) Jaideep Mazumdar.

He also met India’s new High Commissioner to New Zealand Sanjiv Kohli. As reported in our January 15, 2016 issue, he is expected to arrive in Wellington to begin his tour of duty in New Zealand this fortnight.

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