India will fast track the Free Trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with New Zealand to enhance economic engagement between the two nations and work towards taking the total bilateral trade to $3 billion by 2014 from the present $1 billion.
Speaking at the Indian New Zealand Joint Business Council meeting held here, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Anand Sharma said he was hopeful that the FTA would be concluded by early next year, paving way for greater economic and investment ties between India and New Zealand. The joint meeting has been organised by Federation of Indian Chambers and Commerce Industry (FICCI) and the India New Zealand Joint Business Council.
Mr. Sharma said the present trade between the two countries was below the potential and he hoped that new engagements will enable both sides to achieve $3 billion trade turnover by 2014. The New Zealand Trade Minister, Tim Groser was also present on the occasion. "The FTA will not only increase the economic opportunities for both sides but will also open up big segments of investment and services,’’ he added. Both the sides have held four rounds of negotiations and the fifth round is likely to be held soon to work and resolve contentious issues.
Asserting that India had a great potential of investments in the agro processing and cold chain sectors, Mr. Sharma said his country could utilize the expertise of New Zealand entrepenuers and companies who had a strong presence in these two sectors. "We are looking at an investment of $200 billion in this sector during the next three years time. We want the New Zealand participation in a greater manner in this engagement so that the Indian farmers get a better deal by reduction in the wastage incurred from transporting fruits and vegetables from farms to the markets,’’ he remarked.
Mr. Groser said Mr. Sharma's visit, at the invitation of the New Zealand Government, was an excellent opportunity to advance negotiations. "We in New Zealand place great importance to strengthening our economic as well as bilateral relationship with India and hope that the new economic agreements will give it a further impetus,’’ Mr. Groser said.
"The free trade agreement is an exciting prospect. It will provide a framework for our trade and economic links to reach that potential.
The more open access and investment flows that can come from the FTA will be of benefit to businesses in both countries,’’ Mr. Groser said.
Mr. Sharma is also scheduled to meet Prime Minister, John Key, Agriculture Minister David Carter and Groser during the next two days.
Mr. Sharma is accompanied by 30 delegates from India, led by Robin Banerjee, chief financial officer of Suzlon Energy. The New Zealand delegation is headed by Wenceslaus Anthony who chairs the India New
Zealand Business Council. India's $255 million exports to New Zealand, and New Zealand's $500m exports to India. Among the areas identified for joint venturing were agriculture technologies, food supply chain, and wood and green technologies. IT innovation, tourism and film were also possibilities.