With New Zealand emerging as one of the hot destinations for India’s exports during the recent recessionary period, both countries have started negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to expand further their relationship.

The decision to start FTA talks was taken at a meeting Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma had with New Zealand’s Trade Minister Tim Groser at the World Economic Forum in Davos recently. The issue had been pending since March last year after the New Zealand Government had given the go ahead for the FTA negotiations.Commerce Ministry officials said New Zealand was keen on FTA as its businesses wanted to clinch significant orders from India, one of the fast growing economies in Asia. New Zealand is one of the main architects of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and is likely to support India’s case for joining this alliance.

New Zealand, which exports coal, timber, wool and hides to India, exported goods worth $442 million last year, an increase of 16 per cent, despite declining trade overall. Exports are projected to grow at 8 per cent in 2010. India is now New Zealand’s 13th largest export destination. New Zealand had FTAs with Singapore, Thailand China and Malaysia.

Officials said there was a huge potential to increase cross-border investment as well as services exports and it was essential that negotiations cover these areas, particularly IT, film and education sectors.

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