New Delhi, Oct 26 (IANS) New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Wednesday said that there is enormous potential for trade between his country and India that can be tapped to the benefit of both and called for an early conclusion of the bilateral Free Trade Agreement.
Key’s remarks came at a business meet here, organised by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Associated Chambers of Commerce (Assocham), and attended by Indian Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal and NITI Ayog CEO Amitabh Kant.
Pointing out that New Zealand has a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China and does “eight times more trade with China than it does with India”, Key said: “I am strongly of the view that if you have a free trade agreement, you should be ambitious.”
He said that that India is “going through dramatic changes” as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying his best to usher in economic reforms, but there is pressure on economy to create jobs and that can be done through innovation and right mix of policies.
Key said that the two countries should look beyond traditional areas such as agriculture and food processing and explore areas like high technology manufacturing, IT, and e-commerce, among others.
New Zealand has emerged as the top country in ease of doing business in the World Bank’s latest ‘Doing Business’ report, dethroning Singapore, while India ranks 130 among the 190 economies that were assessed on various parameters.
In his address, Meghwal said that although India is currently low in ‘ease of doing business’ index, it would improve in the coming years as the Modi government has taken several initiatives in this connection.
He also said that there were too many areas of trade with New Zealand including agriculture, animal husbandry, food processing, tourism and education.
Amitabh Kant said that New Zealand has set great example in sustainable development, high value tourism and gender parity in governance, among other things.
Stressing India and New Zealand are at the beginning of setting up a long term and fruitful partnership, he also called for direct connectivity with New Zealand so that more tourists and businessmen could travel there. The two countries have already signed an agreement to this effect this May.