India and New Zealand plan to “formally begin a free trade agreement negotiation next year,” according to Rupert Holborow, High Commissioner for New Zealand in India.
Addressing journalists at The Hindu, Mr. Holborow said a preliminary study had been completed, and the Prime Ministers of the two countries were supportive of the idea, “which will be very important for putting a much more dynamic nature into the relationship.”
“That will probably move us from second gear into third gear, and that is a plus.” But this relationship should be in fourth gear, he said.
New Zealand could also make important contributions to fuelling a second Green Revolution in India, and this could be seen through an “investment prism,” Mr. Holborow said. Citing the historical trend of investment following trade, the High Commissioner argued for a more benign trade environment which would permit, initially, more New Zealand products within India.
“This will then give the New Zealand community confidence to take an investment stand in the area, whether that is cold storage, or transport or research and development. In return, there is a lot of potential for India to do more in the New Zealand market, and that would also be facilitated.”
Touching on areas where further cooperation was possible, he said: “For people who would look for education for their children overseas — middleclass people who still want the highest quality education — New Zealand is a very good choice because the cost is considerably lower than it is in the U.K. or the U.S.”
Explaining that New Zealand had a “broad-based” education system, he said: “We do have strengths in international agricultural research. In this field, we have the leading institutions in the world.” However, in other areas like medicine and dentistry too, New Zealand’s educational institutions would be comparable with the world’s best.
Mr. Holborow emphasised that New Zealand also had a vibrant Indian-origin community. “The Indian community in New Zealand is 120,000 on a population of 4 million. It is our second-largest ethnic community of Asian extraction after China. Immigration continues to flow at a fairly steady rate, and we have a points system,” Mr. Holborow explained. Even the New Zealand Head of State and several Members of Parliament were of Indian origin, and this also pointed to the integration of the community into New Zealand.
On the architecture of regional development, he said: “India is very actively and successfully developing a ‘look-east’ policy.” This includes the East Asia Summit, on which New Zealand is working “very closely and collaboratively with India.”