India-New Zealand FTA negotiations likely in August

By Amandeep Kaur, IANS,

Hamilton (New Zealand) : India and New Zealand are expected to have their next round of negotiations for a market-opening free trade agreement in New Delhi in August, according to the ministry of foreign affairs and trade (MFAT).

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Indian officials are working to finalise the dates for the talks, the MFTA said in a report to executive committee of the India-New Zealand Business Council.

According to the April-May edition of MFAT’s bi-monthly trade publication, BusinessLink, the first round of negotiations for the FTA took place in Wellington from April 7-8, 2010.

The two-day round was exploratory in nature and covered all subjects that each country is interested in. Both sides outlined their normal approaches to negotiations in each chapter area and put forth their views about the substance of the agreement.

New Zealand Business Council Chairman Wenceslaus Anthony said the Council was pleased to note that the MFAT welcomed the Council’s comprehensive and useful submission ahead of the start of negotiations.

He said as negotiations progressed, further input from businesses and the public at any stage would be welcomed by officials.

Anthony also said the recent visits of Human Resources Development Minster Kapil Sibal and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi in their addresses to the Council emphasised the opportunities that exist in both the countries the business community must avail.

New Zealand has emerged as one of the hot destinations for India’s exports, especially during the recent recessionary period. It is also one of the architects of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and is likely to support India’s case for joining this grouping.

New Zealand High Commissioner to India Rupert Holborow has said two-way trade can grow four times to $4 billion in 10 years if a FTA is signed.

Richard Howard, former chairman of the New Zealand Association for Migrant Investment, said the negotiations would be an excellent way to cultivate greater mutual awareness of business opportunities ahead of the FTA being completed.

“India is undergoing a dramatic transformation offering significant opportunities for high growth New Zealand companies. India is now New Zealand’s second fastest growing export market, while imports from India are also growing,” he said.