India-New Zealand trade talks likely early next year

Christchurch (New Zealand), Nov 30 (Inditop.com) Negotiations towards a free trade agreement (FTA) between India and New Zealand would hopefully start early next year, India-New Zealand Trade Business Council chairman Wenceslaus Anthony has said.

With India having recovered quickly from the slowdown, many hi-tech industries in and around Christchurch have an interest in the Indian market, Anthony told Inditop on the sidelines of the launch of the council’s chapter in Christchurch.

He noted that New Zealand’s exports to India have increased dramatically in the past two years, with coal accounting for NZ$344 million (US$244 million), almost half of the total exports of NZ$653 million (US$464 million) to India.

“While Indian agriculture is highly protected, improved access for our agricultural and primary produce, especially in an added-value form, needs to be one of the key focuses of the negotiations,” Anthony said.

Other products he identified were meat and value-added food items and wine, coal, wood and wood products.

In a report to the ministry of foreign trade and external affairs, the council said dairy products could also be a major export item for New Zealand and needed to be addressed in the FTA negotiations.

Until the past year or so, dairy products formed only a minor part of New Zealand’s exports to India.

However, during the year ended April 30, 2009, dairy exports to India jumped to NZ$25 million (US$18 million) compared to US$817,000 the previous year.

“New Zealand’s imports from India, which are also an important part of our trade relationship with India, have grown significantly in recent years as well,” the report said.

“Unlike New Zealand’s exports, which have some very large exports such as coal and wood products, the largest import category from India is pharmaceutical products at NZ$32.7 million for the year ended April 30, 2009”, it added.

“Over the past 10 years, the export of services to India in the form of tourism, education services, visits by film crews to New Zealand and engineering and consulting services have been major earner for New Zealand,” the report said.

“It is estimated that they have been earning as much as 50 percent of the annual trade exports to India.”

Richard Howard, board director of the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment, said the large increase in “visiting family and friends” category of Indian tourists reflected the increasing migration from India.

The number of ethnic Indians in New Zealand now exceeds 100,000.