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Action must take over the rhetoric

All we hear from various speakers at the ever-increasing seminars and workshops is statistics on the Indian population, wealth demographics and how each State in India must be considered as a country by itself to do business.
We hear about the Indian Diaspora and how Indians are doing well in every walk of life, no matter where we go.
Another common factor to all the meetings is the same people; we hardly see any new businessperson with a proactive approach attending these events, regardless of who organises them.
It has also become common for the Prime Minister, Trade Minister, the Opposition Leader, Indian High Commissioner and New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) officials to speak about the progress of the Free Trade negotiations with India and how well we are poised to reach new levels in bilateral relations.
A propitious visit
Prime Minister John Key told guests attending the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards 2010 Presentation Dinner on November 15 in Auckland that he would be visiting India early next year.
I expect a large business delegation to accompany him on this important visit.
I hope this would set the pace for more action and less talk.
With about 200 domestic and international airports needing uplift and an ever-increasing number of students going overseas for higher education, India offers immense potential for New Zealand businesses.
Is New Zealand positioning itself as a destination of choice to do business, study, live or settle or indeed a combination of these?
Offer new vistas
Recently, I asked one of the top Indian film directors who had shot a few Bollywood films in Queenstown why he had stopped shooting in New Zealand.
He said, “I have filmed in New Zealand way back in 2002 and I loved what the country had to offer. Most of the locations were mind blowing. But we did not go to unexplored areas. We were shown the same places that were featured in many other films. You could send out feelers to the National Film Development Corporation in India and let producers know that you are really keen on more filming in New Zealand.”
A Travel Agent commented on Indian tourists to New Zealand, saying, “A majority of travellers, considering the cost of air travel, hotel accommodation and food, say Australia and New Zealand are expensive destinations. In fact, it is rare for first-time travellers to visit these countries. In my experience, a large number of travellers from India visit Australia and New Zealand to have their visas stamped on their passports, easing up the requirement for US.”
Expensive Business
It is very expensive to launch businesses in India. One needs huge capital and New Zealand thrives on small and medium enterprises.
It is time for NZTE to break tradition and put up some high-powered forums in India for the Prime Minister to sell ‘Brand New Zealand’ next year.
The hardworking local dairy and liquor-store owners and mortgage brokers have relevance to our economy. But we as a nation have to go a large step up to Indian multinationals like the Tatas, Mittals, Reliance, Wipro and Infosys.
There are Kiwi Indians who have the knowledge and experience to establish such business connections. The Government and the NZTE have to break the ring fence created by the current power brokers in order to look beyond that to tap that talent.
Ram Rai is an experienced businessman, having run a number of successful enterprises in recent years. He is currently the Deputy Chair of the National Party for the Northern Region and Chairman of the Mt Roskill Electorate in Auckland. Email: ramrai1@xtra.co.nz

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