Modi agrees for closer ties but stops short of FTA

Venkat Raman in New Delhi – 

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that his country was keen to establish a ‘Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement’ but stopped short of mentioning anything about a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Speaking to the media at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on October 26, 2016 soon after conclusion of official level talks of the two governments led respectively by him and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, he said that the two sides “agreed to continue to work closely towards an early conclusion of a balanced and mutually beneficial Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.”

Key Words

“Balanced and mutually beneficial’ are the key words that would dominate renewed talks between the two governments, notably the chief negotiators.

Mr Key is known for his positive approach to issues and more importantly his optimistic vision over India but New Delhi would not commit to a pact that would compromise its farming sector that includes agriculture and diary industries.

We have more on this in our Leader appearing under Viewlink.

Trade and Investment

Mr Modi said that trade and investment were important issues that were discussed at the official talks.

“We both recognised the need for greater economic engagement to effectively respond to the growing uncertainties in global economy and agreed that expanding business and commercial ties should continue to be one of the priority items of our partnership. I am sure that the large business delegation accompanying Prime Minister Key will not only witness first-hand the investment opportunities on offer in India’s growth story. Their interactions will also build new commercial partnerships between our two countries. I would like to mention food processing, dairy and agriculture, and related areas in their supply chain as some of the areas of particular potential for bilateral cooperation. New Zealand’s strength and capacity in these sectors can combine with India’s vast technology needs to build partnerships that can benefit both our societies,” he said.

Common goals

Mr Key said that New Zealand will strengthen its political, security and economic relationship with India and work towards common goals.

“It is important we work together with like minded countries to enhance regional prosperity and stability and working more closely with India, which is playing an increasingly important role in global and regional affairs, will build on our efforts to do this,” he said.

Later, addressing a public meeting, Mr Key said that there was no competition between the dairy manufacturers in India and New Zealand and that both can work together to take new ideas to a commercial scale.

“I am told that as much as 40% of food that India produces is lost before it reaches your consumers’ plates. Flip that around and that is a massive opportunity for improvement in your primary sector. There are lessons to be learned from New Zealand’s logistics and supply chains expertise,” he said.

Three Agreements

While political issues need to be sorted out paving the way for greater economic cooperation, New Zealand and India signed Agreements at Hyderabad House on October 26 – deals that would see closer engagement between the two countries.

They are (a) Establishing a Bilateral Ministerial Dialogue through annual meetings, either in India, New Zealand or on the margins of regional or global gatherings and hold annual Foreign Ministry Consultations at the senior official level in either country (b) Promoting cooperation and dialogue on cyber issues and explore prospects for information sharing in support of our mutual interests in maritime security (c) Continuing negotiations for a Customs Cooperation Arrangement to facilitate information sharing and to provide a framework for the exchange of new customs procedures and techniques (d) Undertaking defence education exchanges by placing Indian and New Zealand defence personnel on each other’s defence courses and staff colleges; and (e) Encouraging naval ship visits to each other’s ports, with the next visit of an Indian vessel to coincide with the Royal New Zealand Navy’s 75th anniversary commemorations in November 2016.

Indian Newslink will analyse the above in its ensuing issues. Additional Reading on Page One, this Section and under Viewlink.

Venkat Raman was a part of the Media delegation that accompanied Prime Minister John Key during his official visit to India from October 25 to October 28, 2016. Additional Reading in this Section, on Page One and under Viewlink.

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