Free Trade Agreement negotiations between New Zealand and India should conclude in eight to ten months, Trade Minister Tim Groser says.
Following talks with India's Minister of Commerce and Industry, Anand Sharma, the ministers said it should be possible to ramp up existing annual bilateral trade between New Zealand and India from NZ$1 billion now to NZ$3 billion in 2014.
“The FTA will be our single most important bilateral platform for increasing trade. More open access and investment flows can come from the FTA," Groser said in a release.
See comments from Groser and Sharma:
Mr Sharma noted that New Zealand is already an important trade partner of India in the energy sector. There are also important trade complementarities in the agricultural sector. What is important is also to deepen the relationship in the services trade, and bilateral investment, and build on the possibilities of cooperation in innovation and technology transfer. He indicated that the Services sector constituted a major portion of India’s GDP as well as exports and consequently India hoped that New Zealand would provide a growing market for India’s IT enabled Service sector.
Financial services, tourism and education were also identified as very promising areas of bilateral cooperation. Mr. Sharma called for a more liberalised regime to be put in place to allow greater inter-firm mobility for professionals, and to promote dialogue on mutual recognition arrangements and social security arrangements. He called for a working holiday scheme to be put in place between India and New Zealand.
He stated that the First Green Revolution had made India self- sufficient in food grain production and that India was now looking towards embarking on a second green revolution which would convert India into a country exporting food grains, fruit and vegetables. He mentioned that productivity in agriculture in India is still low and accordingly India was looking for technical solutions to enhance its productivity.
In this context, Mr Sharma noted that India welcomed investment in a broad range of sectors, including agri-processing, food processing, post-harvest technology transfer in refrigeration, cold chains, storage and logistics for minimizing post production losses. He also pointed out that India allowed 100 % FDI in the field of agriculture processing. He believed that New Zealand had a lot to offer in these areas and stressed that both countries can work very closely in revolutionising post-harvest management logistics in India.
Mr Sharma invited cooperation in the fields of pharmaceuticals, engineering goods, textiles, spice trade and film making. He specifically stressed that the Indian pharmaceutical industry has established itself in world markets for its high quality, at the same time ensuring availability of generics in a manner that makes health care more affordable for vulnerable sections of the world population. He suggested that India’s high quality health sector could help countries like New Zealand to bring down their public health costs.
Mr Groser welcomed Mr Sharma’s commitment and proposals for strengthening the relationship. He stressed New Zealand’s interest in enhancing the export of agricultural products, including dairy, horticulture and wine and industrial goods, over and above the traditional export of coking coal and wood from New Zealand to India. He stressed that New Zealand’s interests in dairy and apples were complementary and not in competition with Indian goods. He explained that the sheep wool from New Zealand goes into carpet making and hence boosts Indian exports. He therefore felt that India needed to liberalise trade access and that investment would follow as a result.