26 June | Wellington

Fulfilling potential relationships and leveraging opportunities between New Zealand and Indian markets was the key theme of the recent “Reimagining India New Zealand Relationship” nationwide series of talks.

In Wellington on Wednesday, 26 June, Hon David Parker MP – Attorney-General, Minister for Economic Development, and Minister for Trade and Export Growth, addressed an audience of business people, exporters, senior economic advisors, academia, and senior representatives from MFAT, NZTE and MPI.

The event, titled “Building Strong Economic Relations”, was hosted by the New Zealand India Trade Alliance in partnership with Grant Thornton, and supported by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE).

Min. Parker said last year’s meeting between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the East Asia Summit, further enhanced the already existing warm relations between the two countries.

The Minister highlighted the rise of India as a consumer market, and its willingness to reach out to the world; “Strong relationships with India matter for New Zealand’s security and prosperity.  India is the World’s largest democracy.  It will be the 5th largest economy by 2020 and the most populous country by 2025.”

The Minister acknowledged that the potential to develop an even stronger trade relationship between the two countries is huge; “We want to strengthen our economic and trade architecture with India, including through the conclusion of a Free Trade Agreement.

“At present the best prospect for securing trade liberalization into India remains the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the RCEP negotiations.  Negotiations for a bi-lateral FTA are a potential parallel track, but progress depends upon what India is prepared to bring to the table, particularly on goods.”

He said that liberal trade rules are critical for both countries, and while there is some growth in trade between the two countries there was; “Unfulfilled potential in the economic relationship, particularly in the bi-lateral goods trade.  New Zealand wants India to open up its protected goods market, to remove barriers which impede NZ service exporters, and to improve conditions for NZ businesses to invest in India.”

Min. Parker stressed that the lack of a Free Trade Agreement need not be a barrier for New Zealand companies, with over 100 NZ companies now working in India.  He said New Zealand must leverage every opportunity that is present, and commended agencies like NZTE, MFAT and NZITA on the role they play in enhancing the relationship.

The meeting was also addressed by Rachel Lynch, Head of Government Relations, Zespri, who spoke about the Zespri’s growth journey in India.  She described the growing demand from Indian consumers to eat healthy food, and how Zespri is meeting that demand with its commitment to in market education, demonstrating how kiwifruit provide a balanced approach to diet.

Geoff Allott, Director and CEO of Quality NZ, talked about why the company is increasingly successful in India; “The rise of the Indian middle class and their taste for good quality protein rich products has made India an ideal market.”  He pointed out the continued efforts towards “ease of doing business” by the Modi government, which is gradually but positively affecting the market environment in India.

The event was also represented by Mr. Sandeep Sood, Head of Chancery – Indian High Commission, former NZ Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, and supported by NZTE and Grant Thornton.