Experts to outline business opportunities in India

Experts to outline business opportunities in India

But myopia may mar the vision into the future
INZBC event on May 23 (at 5 pm) at Ellen Melville Centre, Auckland CBD

Venkat Raman

Auckland, May 17, 2019

Two experts with expertise and experience in and about India will articulate on the ‘Opportunities and Challenges of trading with India,’ in Auckland next week.

Former Trade Commissioner of New Zealand (Delhi based) Jane Cunliffe and Fonterra Director of Global Stakeholder Affairs Simon Tucker will speak as a part of the ‘India Unplugged’ series hosted by India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC).

The meeting will be held on Thursday, May 23, 2019 from 5 pm to 7 pm at Ellen Melville Centre located at 2 Freyberg Place in the Central Business District.

While Ms Cunliffe is expected to speak about her work in India and the experience of New Zealand companies which have an established presence in India, Mr Tucker will share his experience with the ‘Future Group,’ a retail giant in India.


The Meeting will be held on the day when the results of the recently held General Election in India will be announced. The incoming government – whether the respective alliance of political parties led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP or the Congress Party – will, among other issues, determine the future trade policy of the world’s fastest growing economy.

World Bank Ranking   

While several New Zealand companies have been conducting business successfully in India as manufacturers, entrepreneurs, IT specialists, back office support of financial companies, outsourced operators, call centres, exporters, importers and other commercial entities, many say that there are still barriers.

However, the latest World Bank Report ranked India at 77 among 190 countries assessed for ‘Doing Business Report’ up 23 positions from 2017.

The Report said, “The new ranking is significant, considering that last year, the country had improved its rank by 30 places, a rare feat for any and diverse country of the size of India. As a result of continued efforts by the Government, India has improved its rank by 53 positions in the last two years and 65 positions in the last four years.”

The ‘Doing Business Report’ assessment provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 190 economies on ten parameters affecting a business through its life cycle. The Report ranks countries on the basis of Distance to Frontier, a score that shows the gap of an economy to the global best practice.


Trade Statistics and comparisons

Notwithstanding its historic relations, New Zealand’s engagement with India has been sparse and somewhat unenergetic. Despite optimism expressed by Wellington from time to time, the two-way trade remains low at about $2.5 billion, of which exports to India were about $1.7 billion last year.

This pales in comparison to China (India’s biggest neighbour), with who New Zealand enjoys the largest bilateral trade partner status with $27.2 billion in value.

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 fundamental issue of tariff-free status for New Zealand’s agricultural, dairy and meat products.

“The two economies run parallel,” experts say.

Signals and Decisions

While business potential in India is huge and an attractive investment destination for most OECD countries, New Zealand’s decision not to appoint a successor to Ms Cunliffe is seen as ‘strange and unhelpful.’

New Zealand’s Consul General Ralph Hays has taken additional charge as Trade Commissioner, operating from Mumbai.  

Export New Zealand Chief Executive Catherine described the move as ‘surprising.’

“The change will hurt New Zealand’s opportunities in a market considered to be ‘Next China of global trade.’ It may be that they are seeing less New Zealand companies come through. India is a really difficult market to do business but one would argue that is all the more reason to have government boots on the ground,” she said.

Businesspersons, investors, traders, tourists, and students complain of inordinate delays (up to one year in some cases) in the processing of their visas by Immigration New Zealand, while India has an impressive record of 72-hours turnaround.

Multinationals in North America and Europe that India, with a vast domestic market, has taken off with ever-increasing demand for goods and services.

Growth of Indian businesses

But even those who doubt that are impressed by its wealth of highly skilled, low-cost professionals. Some Indian firms, meanwhile, have become world-beaters, not just the well-known stars in its IT and other service industries, but manufacturers too, of products ranging from motorcycles to footballs, from medicines to steel.

New Zealand should not lose out on the opportunities now available for investors, traders, educationists, consultants, engineers and for businesses. There must be a conscientious effort to examine the potential and foster bilateral relations at the governmental, commercial, social and individual levels.

From that point of view, the forthcoming meeting of INZBC would be interesting.


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