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Kiwis yet to realise potential in India

While New Zealand businesses are becoming increasingly aware of India as a possible business destination, they are yet to realise that country’s immense economic potential.

A Free Trade Agreement between the two countries continues to remain lukewarm on the backburner with a number of imponderables to be overcome. Although talks have gathered several rounds, there is little evidence to show that a tangible result is in sight.

Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne was perhaps referring to the need to explore other avenues to enhance bilateral cooperation when he told a meeting of the India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) at a Seminar held under the theme ‘Beyond Business Barriers’ in Wellington on March 24 that New Zealand should recognise the potential offered by the Indian economy and work towards closer ties.

“There is a need for increased economic, cultural and sporting relations between the two countries,” he said.

We are unable to comment further since most INZBC meetings are out of bounds for media and this report is based on a press release.

Council Chairman Sunil Kaushal was more specific.

“FTA is just one of the tools to increase trade but not the only tool”, he said, and added that there should be larger focus on fostering trade between the two countries through business-to-business partnerships,” he said.

Market footprint

Indian High Commissioner Ravi Thapar said that there were several areas of cooperation and coordination that could be identified for tapping into the strengths of New Zealand and Australia.

“We should work with the positives of both sides, like taking New Zealand’s intellectual properties and using India’s market footprint. India’s market footprint is huge and can create great potential for New Zealand companies,” he said.

Grant Thornton New Zealand National Director Greg Thompson said that the tax system is India is complicated.

“It can be daunting,” he said.

INZBC Treasurer Bhav Dhillon said that emerging markets like India should be explored with the assistance of the Council and Government organisations such as the New Zealand Trade & Enterprise.

Mr Kaushal said that an earlier meeting with Mr Thapar and Indian High Commission officials outlined the possible areas of cooperation.

“Aviation, Education, IT, Agriculture were some of the sectors considered significant. The need for direct or code-share flights between India and New Zealand was also emphasised at the meeting,” he said.

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