AUCKLAND, 13th March, 2015: New Zealand Prime Minister John Key underscored the need to tap the enormous business and trading prospects between the two countries at the India New Zealand Business Summit that was attended by a large contingent of Indian, local businessmen, several New Zealand Ministers and Parliamentarians.
Both, India New Zealand Business Council and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), sought to hold the Business Summit annually and utilize the gathering for launching partnerships.
“This is not going to be a one-hit wonder. We will continue to work together in specific fields and a number of sectors have been identified at the Summit,” Mr. Sunil Kaushal, Chairman of India New Zealand Business Council, said, adding that the people-to-people and business-to-business interaction needs to deepen, while the reliance on the two governments for facilitating business growth has to reduce.
Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director of General of CII proposed setting up of a core committee of business leaders from India and New Zealand to facilitate and monitor potential areas of partnerships. Mr. Banerjee proposed more frequent meetings between the business leaders of the two countries.
While the bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries is still being negotiated, the speakers at the Summit 2015, titled: ‘Growing with India: Inspire-Innovate-Grow’, felt the need for businesses and people to connect to help growth of trade between the two countries. India and New Zealand have already established themselves as reliable trading partners; India is New Zealand’s 6th largest market with the value of trade between the two countries touching NZD1.6 billion in 2014.
“What India says and what India does, matters, unlike some countries,” Prime Minister John Key, said at the Summit reinforcing the need to connect with Indian businesses. “There is no question that there is massive opportunities for New Zealand companies.”
Mr. Key said 2015 is a year of opportunity for the relationship, and not least because the Cricket World Cup is beaming images of New Zealand into tens of millions of Indian homes.
A projected growth in gross domestic product of 7% over the next five years, a $2.1 trillion economy, a middle-class population of 300 million and growing with 65% below the age of 35 years, and a projected market share of 28% of the global work force by 2025, India offers an attractive proposition for businesses in agriculture, food processing and related industries, telecommunications, healthcare, electronic hardware, education and training, which is the fifth-biggest export industry contributing $2.8 billion annually to the economy.
“It is our firm belief that only when businesses in both countries take initiative towards solidifying their business to business and people to people links, that policy makers will see the need to look over the minor issues and towards the larger good,” Mr. Kaushal, said.
India imported 1.22 million metric tonnes of coal from New Zealand in 2013. ONGC Videsh, the overseas arm of India’s biggest exploration company – ONGC Ltd.—was granted an exploration permit last year.
New Zealand’s advanced policy in telecommunications and healthcare are “clear examples” of potential areas of collaboration between business houses of the two countries, Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys and former chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India, said. While New Zealand has innovative, sophisticated solutions which Indian companies could benefit from through partnerships, the solutions have to be reconfigured and architecture modified to bring down costs and cater to a bigger population.
“New Zealand has a lot of innovators and innovative products that could be helpful for India,” he said, adding that if challenges of ramping up scale is achieved, then people in India will start to look at New Zealand businesses as partners.
TOONZ Media Group, which contributes to 60% of the global animation industry, which opened its first office in Auckland this year, plans of making New Zealand its live production hub and also cater to the Chinese market leveraging the bilateral FTA ties between New Zealand and China. “We are positively impressed with the availability of talent (here),” Mr. P. Jaya Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of TOONZ Media Group, said.
Chief Executive Sanmit Ahuja of technology accelerator, infrastructure developer and investor ETI Dynamics announced his plans of setting up of an office in New Zealand to pursue potential business opportunities in the region.
India and New Zealand’s relationship runs deep with a lot of common ground in areas of culture, language and diversity. New Zealand’s business with India is mostly limited to commodity and forestry, but is changing, Mr. Todd McClay, Minister of Revenue, State-Owned Enterprises and Associate Minister of Trade, said. “Over the past few decades, our trade profile has changed,” Mr. McClay said, adding that Asia is now the area of focus.
One of the key speakers at the Summit, Dr. Reuben Abraham, Chief Executive Officer of Indian think-tank IDFC Institute had a word of advice for New Zealand business leaders. He urged New Zealand business leaders to meet progressive Chief Ministers and senior bureaucrats instead of focusing on policy makers at the federal level.