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Key visit to bolster ties

Prime Minister John Key is to visit India early next year.

The visit, which will mark a milestone in bilateral ties, had had a long time coming, with an official invitation extended to Mr Key even during his days as Opposition Leader in 2007.

Addressing more than 500 businesspersons and professionals who have more than casual interest in India at the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards 2010 Presentation Ceremony at the Stamford Plaza Hotel on November 15, he said the visit would heighten the pace of FTA negotiations.

“I am keen to visit this great country at the earliest possible time,” he had told me on more than one occasion, but confirmed at the Awards Night, “I hope to be in India during February or March next year.”

He said he had two meetings with India’s Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh recently on the sidelines of the APEC and East Asia Summit, at both of which his proposed visit was apparently discussed.

Dr Singh talked about the massive infrastructure development being planned and implemented to enhance public utilities in that vast country. This includes better highways and motorways, about 200 airport projects and many other development projects, in most of which New Zealand businesses have expertise and experience. It would be interesting to see how we can benefit by constructive and partnership engagement with India,” he said.

We understand that the Government is putting together a delegation of businesses to accompany the Prime Minister and his official delegation.

It is important to exercise care and vision in selecting people who have a genuine passion for doing business with India. The delegation should comprise investors, traders, company executives and such men and women who will look at the positive side of India and the benefits that their participation would bring to New Zealand and its economy. It should include entrepreneurs who will add value to Indo-Kiwi relationship, not just moneybags and certainly not those who are just appendages and use such trips for name-calling.

Apart from bilateral meetings, Mr Key should be able to visit other cities, meet corporate and business leaders, and create appropriate investment opportunities for them in New Zealand.

As Tourism Minister, he would undoubtedly market New Zealand as a destination for tourists, filmmakers and others.

A number of business leaders will share their views on what could be termed as a propitious visit and advice the Prime Minister on the constitution of the business delegation and the ways and means of taking bilateral relations to the next natural and progressive level.

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