Maori Economy holds bright prospects
Trade Policy, Diplomacy and Cultural Connections will be the theme of an international meeting scheduled to be held in Auckland on October 14, 2019.
Organised by the India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC), the one-day Conference, sixth in an annual series, will be held at Pullman Hotel.
Called the INZBC Summit, the Programme will feature 25 speakers including a Minister, Leader of the Opposition, the Indian High Commissioner and businesspersons with trade and commercial experience with India.
This initiative is laudable because private partnerships through professional bodies such as INZBC and similar organisations in India (the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) have the potential to achieve the desired objectives rather than the painful and never-ending discussions on a Free-Trade Agreement (FTA).
Chambers of Commerce in New Zealand have thus far not evinced any interest.
We could expect useful discussion on case studies on successful strategies on Logistics, Distribution and Marketing and the existing and emerging potential on Defence and space technologies and high-value services.
INZBC Chairman Sameer Handa said that the forthcoming Conference will bring together policy and business leaders from New Zealand and India.
“The aim is to explore collaboration in different areas and to showcase New Zealand technology and expertise in these sectors. The Summit would allow New Zealand and India to demonstrate their credentials, for more bilateral trade,” he said.
While the inaugural session will be devoted to Keynote Address, three ensuing sessions would set the tone for further engagement between the businesses of the two countries.
These would be Trade Policy, Partnership and Strategy and New and High-Value Sectors.
Each Session will feature opportunities for Questions and Answers.
Mr Handa said that the annual INZBC Summit has become the cornerstone of international business events in New Zealand.
“Conducted since 2014, the Summit gets all the stakeholders in the India-New Zealand trade space, under one roof. It has the presence of policymakers, industry stalwarts, government representatives and corporate houses from all over New Zealand and also delegations from India,” he said.
Connecting Maori Economy
One of the most significant aspects of this year’s Summit would be the presence and presentation of Liz Mellish, Deputy Chairperson of the Federation of Maori Authorities (FOMA). She is expected to articulate on the prospects of the Maori Economy and its interaction with an economic giant like India.
With an estimated asset value of $50 billion, FOMA facilitates international trade with the countries of the South Pacific, South East Asia including China and Korea.
The Summit would be a veritable opportunity for the Maori economy to explore commercial possibilities with India. However, it would be imperative to identify areas of interest and engagement.
India’s cottage industries and rural economy could be the starting point.
Although not discussed often, the Maori economy accounts for significant assets in New Zealand’s primary sectors and claims fishing quota (50%), forestry (40%), lamb production (30%), sheep and beef (30%) dairy production (10%) and Kiwifruit production (10%). Tariffs on these are high in most export markets.
Trade Statistics and comparisons
Notwithstanding its historic relations, New Zealand’s engagement with India has been sparse and somewhat unenergetic. Despite the optimism expressed by Wellington from time to time, the two-way service trade (as per Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade) remains low at about $2.7 billion, while total trade between the two countries was $1. 27 billion as at the end of 2017.
This pales in comparison to China (India’s biggest neighbour), with who New Zealand enjoys the largest bilateral trade partner status with $30.1 billion (as at the end of 2018).
New Zealand’s bilateral trade with Australia, traditionally the ‘Number 1 Partner,’ is now relegated to the second position with the two-way trade placed at $14.5 billion.
Talks to secure a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India, which began under the Labour government in November 2007 have reached a stalemate on the fundamental issue of tariff-free status for New Zealand’s agricultural, dairy and meat products.
“The two economies run parallel,” experts say.
The new Government led by Narendra Modi is business-friendly but it is doubtful if India would relent from its position relating to the removal of tariffs on agricultural imports. This has been the main thorn in the flesh of several non-starter FTAs, including those with the US and Australia.
The way forward is to engage in business-to-business relations facilitated by organisations like INZBC.