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Another boost for bilateral relations as Mahuta visits India

Four days of bilateral talks, promoting business education and tourism

Potential to improve Indo-Kiwi relations: Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta with India’s External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in Auckland on October 6, 2022 (INL Photo)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, February 5, 2023

Bilateral relations between New Zealand and India are expected to receive another boost as Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta travels to New Delhi with a team of officials and businesspersons on a four-day visit.

She will hold discussions with External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda and call on Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankar.

Ms Mahuta said that her visit to India is a part of the efforts of her government to ‘reconnect with the world,’ after Wellington shut its borders for two years citing the Covid-19 pandemic as the reason.

This is her first visit to India after her appointment as foreign minister on November 6,  2020.

The border closure has cost New Zealand dearly on many fronts but that is another story.

High-level visits

Ms Mahuta said that reconnection is a key priority to her government and that she is keen to strengthen the country’s economic resilience and progress with international partners.

Efforts to improve political and economic relations have been made over the years with several high level ministerial visits from both governments.

Business-to-business partnerships have thrived with major companies establishing their presence and operations. Universities have entered into exchange and other arrangements and many of these are ongoing successfully.

Emerging economic power

India is not only the world’s largest democracy and a rising economic power but also offers a huge bank of human capital, a highly skilled and professional resource, which New Zealand can access with better policies and incentives.

New Zealand has not developed a major alternative market for its exports (largely agricultural and dairy products, meat and meat products, timber, wool and wine), exposing itself to risks.

Those risks have surfaced in the past two years when New Zealand was called to take a stand on China’s alleged human rights violations, threats to invade Taiwan and importantly, the trade war with Australia.

We hope that Ms Mahuta’s visit will be a turning point and she seemed to recognise these issues.

New Zealand should get closer to India: Former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York on September 25, 2019 (ANI Twitter Photo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Aotearoa New Zealand and India have an energetic and vibrant relationship. We share strong people-to-people links with more than 240,000 people of Indian descent calling New Zealand home. We also share ambitious goals between our countries and I will be reinforcing our commitment to supporting closer private sector collaboration and improved air services. The visit will also provide an opportunity to progress indigenous engagement, following initial discussions by Minister Whaitiri during her visit last year,” she said.

Ms Mahuta will also visit Mumbai to promote education, trade and tourism.

She said that she will also meet the Chairman of the India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) and host a roundtable with the officials of the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

“These discussions will allow me to underline our strategy for lifting our bilateral commercial and economic ties,” she said.

INZBC Chairman Earl Rattray, who is already in India on a visit relating to his business, said that he was looking forward to meeting Ms Mahuta in New Delhi.

“INZBC will support any initiative of our government to promote business ties with India. There is rich potential,” he told Indian Newslink from India.

The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework

Ms Mahuta described India as ‘an influential partner in the Indo-Pacific region,’ and said that New Zealand has welcomed the country’s participation in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

“This framework offers a key vehicle for engaging with India as part of a broader regional agenda. New Zealand and India value each other’s perspectives on the Pacific region and we will discuss opportunities to work together in climate change and our views on regional security,” she said.

Ms Mahuta said that during the visit of Dr Jaishankar to New Zealand in October last year, both had agreed that the Indo-Kiwi relationship was ready for its next phase.

“I look forward to building on this momentum and sharing our progress to join the International Solar Alliance, which India and France established in 2015 to promote solar energy cooperation and climate action globally,” she said.

It must be said that India does its best to improve bilateral relations with friendly countries with its time-test diplomacy and extended hand of friendship and goodwill.

As mentioned in our recent Leader, successive High Commissioners have helped to promote political, economic, cultural and educational ties with New Zealand. Notable among them have been Bal Anand, Kadakath Pathrose Earnest, Retd Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Sanjeev Kohli and Muktesh Pardeshi.

The current incumbent Neeta Bhushan is engaging with the host government, businesses and the members of the Indian community to further strengthen these ties.

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