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Visit to India deepens friendship

I have recently returned from a very successful five-day state visit to India.

I went to New Delhi, Agra, and Mumbai for a number of events and was accompanied by a 28-strong business delegation.

India is set to be an important part of New Zealand’s future.

New Zealand’s vibrant Indian community has a strong role to play in ensuring we make the most of our links to one of the world’s largest and growing economies.

A highlight of my trip was meeting with India’s Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in New Delhi. We have been working hard to finalise a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India.

Being on the ground has made me more confident than ever that we are making good progress towards the conclusion of the deal, scheduled for early next year.

Two-way trade between our countries is already worth more than $1 billion a year. I am confident that we can capitalise on the opportunities that FTA with India will bring for us.

While in Mumbai, I visited the cast and crew of the Bollywood film Players.

Parts of this movie were shot here in New Zealand earlier this year.

It was a good opportunity for me to talk with the cast to see how they enjoyed their time in our country.

I am really keen to promote New Zealand to the Bollywood industry, because we cannot underestimate the value of having New Zealand scenery on show to an audience of millions.

In Agra, I enjoyed a quick visit to the impressive Taj Mahal with my wife Bronagh.

I also got the chance to pay my respect to victims of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai.

Another highlight of my trip was playing a bit of cricket at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, with former Black Cap Stephen Fleming and a few local children.

Stephen is a superstar in India, as coach of the Chennai Super Kings, who won the IPL last year. While I was at the stadium, I announced a new Sports Scholarship and Academic Exchange Programme between our two countries.

I know that Indian business people in New Zealand have been making the most of the links they already have to the Indian economy.

I believe we can all benefit from increasing our links with India, and I am pleased that on this visit we were able to make good progress on our free trade talks and increase New Zealand’s profile.

John Key is Prime Minister of New Zealand. The above is exclusive to Indian Newslink © Read related reports in this section and elsewhere in this issue.

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