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New pathways to strengthen Indian connection

Last month, Trade Minister Tim Groser referred to the ‘shift in political tectonic plates,’ as a result of Narendra Modi becoming the Prime Minister of India.

He said that the new leadership will stimulate new opportunities for business relationship between India and New Zealand.

About 350 New Zealand companies export to India, and most of them are small and occasional exporters. As the Indian Government has been progressively cutting red tape for business entry, we have seen interest double from other New Zealand businesses that are conserving the possibilities of entering the Indian market.

New Zealand’s business relationship with India has strong potential, driven by the substantial growth of the Indian community (155,000 as per Census 2013).

However, good bilateral relationship relies on understanding cultural differences. I agree with our Foreign Ministry advocates that New Zealand should understand the Indian business culture better.

B-to-B Business

To leverage our potential business-to-business links between countries it is vital that we grow the people-to-people connections between the many different communities within New Zealand. The diversity of our population is one of our biggest strengths in promoting Kiwi businesses in international markets.

We are working to educate potential exporters in Indian business culture, and develop strategies in key areas of opportunity.

We have been looking to involve ethnic communities in national events and ethnic leaders on community and advisory boards and in the New Zealand business community.

Those who have travelled to New Zealand from India brought with them the entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and connections that can be used to benefit us all.

Some incentives

The Government will support you and your businesses by expanding the Language Line to the private sector, ensuring strong community based settlement support and language training, and funding the Ethnic People in Commerce (EPIC) conference.

EPIC in particular provides a platform to build connections between businesses, entrepreneurs and investors and the wider New Zealand business community.

Those connections are invaluable when they are shared among our business community, and the creation of business opportunities that come from these networks are vitally important to the New Zealand economy.

One of the most constructive ways to encourage people-to-people links between our countries is to promote our education system.

Our young people are our future, and hence we are providing them with opportunities to experience mutual benefits in the future. Their social networks will help build business connections between India and New Zealand.

By increasing our linkages through the education sector, we will grow the pool of talent amongst our young that can benefit both our countries.

Scholarships & Grants

I was pleased to see that we have recently awarded 15 top Indian students scholarships worth $150,000 for postgraduate study in programmes directly related to the Christchurch rebuild, such as Earthquake Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Construction Management.

This is a part of National’s Tertiary Education Strategy of ‘growing international linkages.’
We have also enabled joint research grants worth $460,000 towards collaborative research projects between New Zealand and Indian universities.

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce recently announced the launch of India New Zealand Sports Scholarship, to allow Indian students to study graduate or post-graduate sports related programmes at New Zealand universities and poly techs next year. The scholarships include full tuition fees and a $15,000 contribution to living costs for one year.

Boost to SMEs

New Zealand is a nation of Small & Medium business owners and entrepreneurs.

By growing our people-to-people links, we can encourage and support business connections between New Zealand and India.

The importance of such links cannot be over-emphasised. I believe that they are the backbone that made us a strong and inclusive nation with incentives that reward hard work and back our ability to take on the world and win.

For those of you that have relatives in India and are interested in the India New Zealand Sports Scholarship, please visit www.enz.govt.nz.

The Scholarship closes on October 3, 2014.

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi is Member of Parliament on National’s List since November 2008.

Email: Bakshi.mp@parliament.govt.nz

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