22 Aug 2023

Delegation of 50 business representatives head to India

4:42 pm on 22 August 2023
Signage for check-in at Auckland International Airport

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

One of the largest ever business delegations to India will leave New Zealand this week, aiming to strengthen economic ties with India, which is predicted to become the world's third largest economy by 2030.

Fifty business representatives, including from organisations such as the Employers and Manufacturers' Federation, Export New Zealand, and the New Zealand International Business Forum are bound for Delhi later this week.

Forum chairperson Michael Fox said the delegation hoped to get deals inked during the trip but was being realistic.

"We hope deals get done during this visit but delegation participants are intent on taking a medium-term approach to trade and investment," he said.

"New Zealand has already explored an FTA with India.

"While we will always be interested in a comprehensive agreement, there is much to be achieved, even in the absence of an FTA, to grow the relationship."

Fox said broadening and deepening trade and investment ties in India now was the best way to strengthen trade relationships between the two countries.

The Indian government had identified agriculture, agritech, education, fintech, forestry, horticulture and renewable energy as key priorities and the delegation had the technologies and skills to address some of those development needs, he said.

Executive director of the International Business Forum Stephen Jacobi said there were a number of sectors in which New Zealand could work more closely with its Indian counterparts without a Free Trade Agreement in force.

"For example, we know that dairy is a problem for India in an FTA negotiation, but India is the world's largest producer of dairy products, and it has a very sizeable dairy processing sector - there must be scope for opportunities for Fonterra with the Indian industry, perhaps in strategic alliances or in co-investment.

"I don't think it would lead to tariff elimination across the board, but it could deliver very valuable economic benefits."

Jacobi said similar work could be done in the sheep meat and horticulture sectors, with both countries sharing industry knowledge.

"I think the point is that we have to be a lot more creative in our thinking," he said.

"I don't think we're talking about a mini FTA or anything like that, I think we're talking about a range of sectors where we have cooperative projects, and really beneficial things we're doing together that can deliver value for both sides."

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