An economic relationship between India and New Zealand must go beyond the traditional model – New Zealand - India business leaders, suggest a new approach
Be bold, develop partnerships, and look for opportunities beyond the traditional trade model – this was the central theme that emerged at the first-ever hybrid summit organised by the India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) on June 23 – 24, 2021 at Trusts Arena in Henderson, Auckland.
Held for first-time in a physical venue on Day 1 as well as broadcasted virtually for a global audience on both the days, the Summit brough together a line-up of diplomats, business leaders, government and industry bodies, experts and academics from New Zealand and India, to discuss the various issues of diplomacy & trade that affect this new world order.
Spread over two days and four engaging sessions, the Summit examined New Zealand and India’s position on the Indo-Pacific, Globalisation, trade and investments.
In his welcome speech on the first day of the Summit, Sameer Handa MNZM, Chairman of INZBC, welcomed the strong participation of 400 in-person and virtual attendees and set the tone of the Summit by putting a spotlight on India and New Zealand’s bilateral relationships in this new normal. He said, “While bilateral economic relations have grown significantly since they started in 1952, the pandemic and its associated challenges have prompted a need to rethink this relationship beyond trade flows and reframe the dialogue to strategically think beyond market access.”
Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Local Government and Associate Minister for Maori Development in her keynote address, picked up on the chairman’s speech and acknowledged the government’s work in looking at opportunities beyond the traditional model. She said, “While trade is crucially important for our respective economic recoveries, we recognise that for India, an economic relationship must go beyond the traditional buyer/seller model. We have taken careful note of India’s Self-Reliant India campaign and are exploring how New Zealand can best support India’s development ambitions and offer the expertise and capability that India most values. As part of this, we are looking at how to grow New Zealand’s investment footprint in India.”
This was in-line with a recorded keynote address delivered by the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, Vellamvelly Muraleedharan, who offered an insight into India’s investment landscape. He said, “India is not just a large market, but a diverse market and stronger economic interactions through technology tie-ups and collaborations would be more relevant in the future. India’s vibrant start-up ecosystem provides opportunities for collaborations that can help us define and adjust to the “new normal.”
Minister Mahuta also addressed New Zealand’s focus on building an inclusive, transparent and rules-based Indo-Pacific. Calling India as a not only a rising but responsible power, Minister Mahuta said, “India is and will continue to be an immensely influential and prominent actor in building that kind of a region. We both have a deep stake in the region’s stability. And by working together we are better-placed to address the complex array of challenges facing it – from the economic and health crises arising out of the pandemic, to climate change, and the myriad of geostrategic challenges across the Indo-Pacific.”
Along similar lines, His Excellency, Muktesh Pardeshi, Indian High Commissioner of New Zealand shared India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific. He said, “India's vision for the Indo-Pacific is a positive one that includes all nations in the geography and beyond who have a stake in it. ASEAN centrality and unity lie at the heart of this Indo-Pacific. The Vision emphasises the importance of building infrastructure and connectivity, based on principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, consultation, good governance, and sustainability.”
The panel discussion on day one focused on the Indo-Pacific strategic ties and Globalisation scenarios post COVID-19, which echoed similar themes and insights as highlighted by the ministers and the commissioners.
The conversation on Day two revolved around business and trade ties in this new normal. Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control and Associate Minister for the Environment and Immigration, Phil Twyford’s virtual address focused on how New Zealand is looking at strengthening ties beyond trade agreement. He said, “RCEP is, of course, not the only way these ties can be strengthened, and the Government is enthusiastic about exploring other options for economic cooperation, including at the state level – recognising that India is a proud federal union of 28 states and 9 union territories, each with considerable autonomy and a distinctive cultural and economic identity.”
This was followed by a keynote address by Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog who outlined key areas of growth in India and how they can help in a post-pandemic recovery.
The panel discussion on day two focused on trade regulations and changing scenarios in the service sector, wherein the speakers concentrated on the growth, challenges and potential in individual industries such as dairy, Fin-tech, health, mobility and more.
On the whole, the Summit concluded on its promise of bringing together leaders of the India and New Zealand business diaspora to restart this very important dialogue.
The India New Zealand Business Council is the premier trade organisation in New Zealand, which has been working since 1988 to build trade relations between India and New Zealand. INZBC has promoted and encouraged trade, investment, scientific, technical and economic cooperation between the two countries.
To know more about us, please visit our website: www.inzbc.org