New strategy to boost Indo-Kiwi relations

New Zealand took one more step towards consolidating its position with India with the launch of the ‘New Zealand Inc India Strategy’ that would see new horizons of engagement and bilateral cooperation.

Prime Minister John Key scored yet another political point with an initiative that would yield rich dividends in the years to come. Although many of our corporate and self-styled analysts would hate to admit, India holds the key for future success of many economies and with the US and Europe in serious crisis, the emerging giants of Asia will dominate the rest of the Century.

Mr Key said ‘New Zealand Inc India’ was the first of the many such international and regional strategies that would set ambitious medium term goals and provide a clear direction over a five-year period.

He said similar strategies covering Australia, China, Europe, Middle East, South East Asia and the US were on the anvil.

“Our relationship with India has always been friendly and warm and we have seen good growth over the past few years. Two-way trade is worth more than $1.2 billion per year and India has become our third-largest source of international students and our 10th largest source of visitors,” Mr Key said, speaking at the ‘Cloud’ in Auckland on October 20.

Cementing relations

He outlined a number of ‘good reasons for the strategy,’ stating that India had emerged as a major Asian power and economic hub.

“India is currently the world’s 10th largest economy and its growth rate is second only to China’s among the world’s major economies. India also has a growing middle class and a youthful and increasingly well-educated population. We need to make the most of the opportunities India provides,” he said.

The Indian Government demonstrated its genuine fondness for New Zealand, laying out the Red Carpet for Mr Key during his first State visit to the world’s largest democracy in June. New Zealand showed its new approach to diplomacy with a softened stand towards India’s nuclear power needs and supporting the country’s candidature for permanent membership in the UN Security Council. The Indian Government may return the compliment with an accentuated and more comprehensive Free Trade Agreement that New Zealand disparately needs.

Window of opportunities

Mr Key said the Strategy aimed at realising the potential offered by India.

“The Strategy brings government agencies together to work collectively. It has a strong trade and economic focus but also looks at building political and diplomatic ties. The Strategy outlines why New Zealand businesses should be looking at India and gives them information they need to do business,” he said.

India New Zealand Business Council Chairman Wenceslaus Anthony described the Strategy as ‘timely’ and a move in the right direction.

“Our Prime Minister’s visit to India (June 2011) opened several doors of opportunity for our businesses to engage more meaningfully with their Indian counterparts. Apart from reaffirming our belief that India has immense potential in education, investment, tourism and trade areas, the visit reinforced the need for a well-structured, consolidated and corporate approach. Our Prime Minister’s strategy lifts the bar on quality of engagement and challenges our businesses to keep abreast of the Government’s efforts,” he said.

Mr Anthony was among the frontline members of Mr Key’s delegation, participating in almost all high-level discussions. This was the first time the India New Zealand Business Council received such recognition and distinction since its establishment 23 years ago.

“India is using its newfound wealth to invest in the education of its young people. Economic liberalisation has given rise to a vast collection of millionaires. This is a nation where staggering wealth and prosperity co-exist with a rural economy,” Mr Anthony said.

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