The government of New Zealand is working closely with all partners at RCEP to work for a very positive and good quality FTA with India. However, NZ has to work on any trade negotiations, on it’s merits and it’s benefits for the kiwi companies. This was the essence of the talks, that Todd McClay had with trade and corporate sector heads, at a meet organised by India New Zealand Business Council [INZBC].
INZBC organised a talk session with a group of companies working actively with the Indian market, on 7th September 2017, in Auckland. The purpose was to get a direct view of the Trade Minister, Todd McClay, on the ongoing negotiations with RCEP.
The trade minister reiterated that, “RCEP builds on New Zealand’s already strong relationships in Asia, and will open up more opportunities for New Zealand businesses in these fast growing economies.”
There are 16 countries involved in RCEP: the 10 members of ASEAN; plus the six countries with which ASEAN has free trade agreements—Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand. These six countries are known as the ASEAN Free Trade Partners (AFPs).
Minister Todd said, “Joining RCEP is an important step, for getting bigger access to the NZ market. RCEP countries have a total population of more than 3 billion, a total GDP of around $US23 trillion and they account for about 27% of global trade. RCEP has the potential to increase business across the board in New Zealand”, he said.
It’s a comprehensive agreement, covering trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, e-commerce, etc. RCEP will ensure better market access for New Zealand businesses throughout Asia, elimination of tariffs for exporters and more opportunities for New Zealand’s service sector.
Speaking on the roadblocks on the direct FTA with India, Minister expressed that NZ is working positively with the Indian government on their concerns. One of the main points of concern is NZ’s access to the dairy and primary produce market. The minister clarified that, “the NZ government is of the view that given the difference in scale of the markets, NZ primary sector can never threaten the Indian industry”.
The minister appreciated the efforts being taken by INZBC in engaging with the industry and government on both sides to create a positive atmosphere for the talks.
Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, National MP, said that the government has been working very hard to open markets for kiwi companies, even through TPP. He said, “Minister Todd has personally visited most of the countries involved in the TPP discussions, to understand their concerns and develop relationships for NZ”
Minister Todd highlighted the benefit of TPP for the nation’s economy. “TPP would give New Zealand better access to globally significant markets, with 12 countries partnering. It would diversify New Zealand's trade and investment relationships, and provide a platform to build on the NZ$28 billion of New Zealand goods and services exported to TPP countries in 2014”.
INZBC treasurer, Bhav Dhillon said, “Trade talks like RCEP and TPP would will help set a new standard for trade and investment in the Asia Pacific region. This will help generate substantial long-term economic and strategic benefits for New Zealand and promoting the growth of regional supply chains.”
Sameer Handa, board member INZBC said that the council will continue to engage with industry leaders and the government on both sides to help progress the FTA/RCEP talks for the benefit of both India and NZ.