INZBC [India New Zealand Business Council] and NZIFA [NZ Indian Friendship Association], recently hosted a delegation of Indian Parliamentarians to New Zealand, headed by the Minister of Parliamentary affairs and Skills Development - Hon Rajiv Pratap Rudy. This was another big step in strengthening New Zealand- India relations. Dignitaries from New Zealand Parliament were also present to openly discuss issues like the free trade agreement and others amongst which participation of Air India in the New Zealand business market to help bolster the ties between the two countries.
Opening remarks were made by His Excellency the High Commissioner of India to New Zealand,M r Ravi Thapar, who welcomed the delegates and thanked INZBC for facilitating the evening.
Mr Rudy commenced his address by introducing everyone in his delegation, in a light hearted informal address. Speaking about his association with the High Commissioner going as far back as, when they were at University. He also spoke about inviting the New Zealand Parliamentarians to a game of Cricket with the Indian Parliamentary team.
Talking business, Mr Rudy explained how the current Government has gone through three major chapters over the past one year. He explained that the first chapter was to put legislations in place - which included doing away with what was obsolete and did not serve the country anymore and to introduce new laws that supported the growth and development in the Country.
Mr Rudy stated that the second chapter was to introduce the largest financial inclusion programme in the world, ever. The third chapter, he stated, is about International Diplomacy, which he said that the Prime Minister had piloted. He said that ever since the Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge, the country’s engagement across the world has increased manifold. He also talked about the current Indian government resolving major overdue issues related to border security and terrorism with the neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Speaking on the current state of Indo NZ ties, the Minister stated that although there can clearly be many areas where the two Countries could collaborate in terms of Agriculture, Education or in the Digital India programme - he stated that the engagement with New Zealand remains low. He referred to Prime Minster Narendra Modi's visit to Australia and stated that perhaps Mr Modi wanted to spend some more time in New Zealand and that is why he decided not to make a "short flight in a hurry".
Praising New Zealand for being one of the safest countries in the world he congratulated the Government for keeping the country's borders secure from threats of terrorism.
Former INZBC Chairman Wenceslaus Anthony spoke of the huge and growing market potential in India, saying that some businesses may be ‘battling to do with business with India.
“Many of the big corporate entities across the world have established their presence in India. New Zealand businesses should also take that extra step,” he said and asked, “Are businesses in New Zealand prepared to take up this challenge?”
Speaking for INZBC and NZIFA, Mr Anthony said that the two organisations want to be a part of Prime Minister John Key and the New Zealand government to double exports to India in the next ten years.
“We cannot go far selling to ourselves of only around 4.5 million population. The long-term growth prospects of New Zealand will depend on how well we are able to fine tune our response to trends, such as rapidly increasing demand for higher value consumer products from Asia’s growing economies and India would be a great focus with about 1.2 billion population. We need more New Zealand companies looking at India with the right attitude and ambition,” he said.
The event was conducted very elegantly by Damian Sharkey, who is the SME Lead at Westpac Bank.
Among the NZ Parliamentarians joining the discussion, were Mr Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Dr Parmjeet Parmar from National Party, Mr Phil Goff from Labour Party and Mr Mahesh Bindra from NZ First Party.
Other members included in the delegation led by Mr Rudy were: