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Your vision of India needs correction

Your vision of India-Tim Groser  Full Panelists.jpgThe emerging economies of Asia are shifting the powerbase enjoyed by the US and UK and countries like New Zealand must realign their strategies and seek better trade and bilateral partnerships, a senior Minister of the Crown said.

“While our Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China has begun to accrue huge benefits, we must focus our attention on improving ties with India. The private sector has a major role to play in establishing partnerships and business associations. The Indian business community in New Zealand has a significant advantage and responsibility in this connection,” Trade Minister Tim Groser said, addressing a Seminar organised by the Education, Trade and Technology Alliance (ETTANZ) Inc at the Stamford Plaza Hotel on July 8.

He said while FTA negotiations will be a long-drawn and challenging process, with a number of imponderables to be addressed, businesses here must continue to exploit the existing and emerging commercial potential offered by India.

Indian Newslink has always held the view that Mr Groser is not only a strong advocate of closer Indo-Kiwi ties but also a practical negotiator with a firm grip on issues. He shares the passion for improved trade with his counterparts in the Indian Government, notably Kamal Nath, former Commerce & Industry Minister and Anand Sharma, who now handles the portfolio. His informal discussions with Mr Nath when he was the latter’s guest at the talks to salvage the Doha Round in New Delhi in March 2007 and followed by the visit of then Trade Minister Phil Goff (April 2007) led to the initiation of a Joint Study Group, and the start of negotiations for a FTA.

Mr Groser rightly underscored the need to create an environment of better understanding, goodwill and business practices between business communities in the two countries.

“New Zealand is not perceived as a ‘Racist Country,’ but we are considered ‘too transactional to forge better people-to-people relationships. Indian businesses believe that we do not cultivate relationships that transcend business. It could be a cultural blockade or lack of understanding of the Indian psyche; either way, there is a need to remove this negative feeling about New Zealand businesses,” he said.

Regular visits by delegations of businesspersons, Government and New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) officials to understand the evolving practices, rules and regulations in India and apprising the Indian counterparts of what we can offer will be useful, he said.

“The Indian business community in New Zealand has done extremely well and it is important that we recognise and applaud their success.

“I am happy that the Indian Newslink has established the Indian Business Awards (IBA) Scheme that celebrates the success in the Indian business community in New Zealand,” he said.

Mr Groser said while the rise in the number of students from India studying in our educational institutions has been impressive (currently about 9000), the growth has been “too rapid to take comfort.”

“We are not dealing with commodities in this business of export education. We are dealing with people and we must realise our moral responsibility towards the young men and women who come into our country for higher education. Such responsibility rests not only in providing quality education but also in pastoral care, cultural safety and social issues. It is better to be slow and steady rather than and fast and regretful,” he said.

A panel of four speakers outlined their experiences in dealing with India.

AB International Managing Director Ashok Bhatia said as an importer, his company faces formidable challenges.

“No one supports small companies in New Zealand, including the Government and the commercial banks. There is a long waiting period between the time we place orders and pay in full and the time the goods actually arrive in New Zealand. We have to contend with such problems as parallel imports, port congestion, foreign exchange and a host of other issues,” he said.

Mr Bhatia, known for his patience and honesty was also bitter about the somewhat indifferent and unhelpful attitude of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MSAT).

“This attitude must change before we can expect any improvement,” he said.

NZTE Operations Manager (Biotechnology) and former Trade Commissioner to India Paul Vaughan said a proper understanding of India and her people was a stepping stone to success.

“Do you research properly and have the right strategy. You should also plan your travel at the right time,” he said.

Ram Viswanathan, Manager, CMC Limited emphasised the importance of partnership in trans-border business.

“It is also important to have institutional support provided by organisations such as NZTE. An innovative approach always pays dividends,” he said.

ZIndia Managing Director Jacob Mannothra, winner of the Best Exporter to India Business Award of IBA 2008 and 2009, emphasised the importance of establishing partnerships in the country of operation.

“ZIndia (exporter of timber to India) began as a Kiwi partnership company and also drawn its employees in India as partners. There is therefore potential for growth but the cutthroat competition from New Zealand exporters is harmful to everybody including the New Zealand economy. The price war must stop,” he said.

About 80 businesses attended the luncheon supported by the National Bank, Stamford Plaza and IBA 2010, at which Chad Wilkie and Satish Sharma, respectively ETTANZ Executive Chairman and President outlined the objectives of the organisation and its efforts to facilitate members to engage in mutually beneficial relationships with their overseas counterparts.

Photo : Tim Groser speaking at the ETTANZ Seminar on July 8 in Auckland. Others in the picture are Chad Wilkie (standing), panellists Jacob Mannothra, Ram Viswanathan, Paul Vaughan and Ashok Bhatia. Picture for Indian Newslink by Sunny Kaushal.

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