As a part of its wider engagement in the Indian economy, New Zealand should actively encourage major companies to expand and extend their engagement in the core sector, a New Delhi based senior official of the Indian government has said.
Commerce and Industry Joint Secretary J K Dadoo said a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and New Zealand would strengthen the economic bond between the two countries.
“The Agreement will accrue several benefits including enhanced economic cooperation. While negotiations are going on, we should not overlook the challenges which include socio-political sensitivities inherent in FTAs,” he said, speaking at a round table meeting in Auckland on January 27.
Mr Dadoo said the presence of diverse businesses with varied activities at the meeting was indicative of the growing interest among New Zealanders in engaging with India.
“Commercial partnerships and trade exchanges should accrue benefits to both countries. Currently, India has a balance of payments deficit of about $500 million on its trade with New Zealand.
The Dairy sector
“I urge companies like Fonterra to strengthen their presence in India by developing enduring partnerships with leading Indian dairy cooperatives such as Amul, Mother Dairy and the National Dairy Development Board,” he said.
India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) hosted the meeting, which was attended by its executive committee members, leading Indian entrepreneurs and members of the business delegation that accompanied Prime Minister John Key on his official visit to India in June 2011.
Mr Dadoo was in New Zealand to participate in the Seventh Round of discussions with his counterparts at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) in Wellington. His delegation included Babni Lal, Director (Oceania) in his ministry and S K Verma, second secretary at the Wellington based Indian High Commission.
The New Zealand government was represented by Nigel Fyfe (Director, Trade Negotiations, MFAT), Joanne Dow (NZ-India FTA Coordinator, MFAT), and Rebecca Berendt (MAF).
Mr Fyfe said talks with India were going well and that he was looking forward to the next round of discussions in April or May 2012.
In his opening address, India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) Christchurch Chapter head Robert Barker shared his experiences of doing business with India.
Other participants outlined the opportunities that exist in export of logs, technology transfer in horticulture, biotechnology partnerships, healthcare solutions, recycling cars, building technologies, ICT, cold chain technology and further engagement in the dairy sector.
Foreign direct investment
INZBC chairman Wenceslaus Anthony said the quest for strengthening the India-New Zealand relationship had led to a number of developments that would benefit both countries.
“We have established the right structures and policy directives. These include establishing new Chapters of INZBC, alliances with Indian organisations such as the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Associated Chambers of Commerce of India (ASSOCHAM) and PHD (Punjab, Haryana and Delhi) Chamber of Commerce and Industry,” he said.
Mr Anthony said that the Indian government welcomed foreign direct investments in a number of sectors, especially infrastructure, technical upgrade of industry through Greenfield investments.
“Projects that are on priority of the Indian government and those that generate additional employment for Indians would receive attention. Investments for setting up Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and establishing manufacturing units would also be welcome,” he said.
According to him, New Zealand companies were investing more in India.
He cited the examples of Rakon Limited and Medtech Global Ltd, which are involved in a number of activities in India.
“Indian companies are primarily investing in our ICT and coal resources. There is rising interest in biotechnology and pharmaceutical products.
“Leading Indian ICT companies such as HCL, Mahindra Satyam and Tata Consulting Services have invested substantially in New Zealand. We would like see the growth of these companies in New Zealand,” Mr Anthony said.