A strong relationship with India is the number one foreign policy priority of the John Key Government, New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser said here on Tuesday.
Indicating a strong bonding with the Indian government, Mr. Groser told visiting Indian journalists that New Zealand was ready to offer greater market access to Indian professionals under the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) now being negotiated.
“India is fast emerging as a super power. It will be in the top three during the next decade along with the U.S. and China. It has become a top priority of our foreign policy agenda aimed at enhancing the economic engagement,'' he added.
Stating that the FTA negotiations were progressing well and on track, Mr. Groser said his government would make necessary offers to India in services (under the proposed FTA) throwing open decks for Indian professionals to get more visas into New Zealand. “We want quality people to join hands with the people and government of New Zealand and we do not mind giving access to this category. You cannot establish a business relationship without facilitation of movement of persons,'' he added.
India and New Zealand are negotiating a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) and have already completed five rounds of talks. The negotiations started in 2010. The CECA would cover trade in goods, services and investment.
According to official data, bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to $755 million in 2009-10. However, he said New Zealand was looking at the dairy sector of India for enhanced cooperation and engagement. “We are not going to go into India in a big way but contribute in a qualitative manner. We are certainly looking at exports of dairy products to India,'' he said.
Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who is leading a high-level FICCI business delegation here, said the trade pact would have a separate chapter on services. He said free trade pact in services would ensure greater market access for both service providers as well as movement of professionals in New Zealand.
Mr. Groser said the sensitivities related with the services sector would be discussed.
“The pact in services is doable and it is also in our interest to facilitate services sector,'' he added. The services sector is of key interest to India as it contributes a major portion to its GDP. India has already implemented comprehensive market opening pacts which include the services sector with Singapore and South Korea. It has signed similar pacts with Japan and Malaysia.
It is looking at the Indian dairy sector for enhanced cooperation and engagement