Trade between New Zealand and India was poised for growth over the coming years, but New Zealand companies needed to be more proactive in embracing the Indian market and learn from the increasing number of Kiwi companies tasting success in India.
That was the central message that has emerged from the India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) sixth annual one-day event on October 14 in Auckland. Titled "India Unplugged" this year's theme was Collaborate to Grow Trade.
Spread over four sessions comprising engaging presentations, stimulating panel discussions and interactive Q&A sessions, participants were drawn from a range of entities including government, business and export promotion agencies both from India and New Zealand, exporters and Kiwi entrepreneurs who shared their own inspiring success stories from India.
Inaugurating the event, Minister of Employment and Associate Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson said describing India's potential as vast was an understatement. "It is the fastest growing economy in the world with excellence in farming, high precision manufacturing and IT, opening up more avenues for collaboration," Jackson said. "New Zealand is willing to provide assistance for India's economic goals particularly in agriculture sector."
Muktesh Pardeshi, India's High Commissioner to New Zealand, said while relations between the two countries wre friendly and cordial, they were not extensive and deep.
There was a need to work together to identify greater linkages including in the cultural and sporting fields in order to broad base and deepen the relationship, he said.
National Party leader Simon Bridges related his experience of travels to India – how similarities exist between both the countries, but at the same time, there were significant differences comparing the countries to the kiwi and the elephant.
He said there was need for more governmental interaction such as more visits from New Zealand ministers to India, highlighting the need for relationships in the film industry – this could have a powerful relationship between both the countries.
He also spoke of the need to expedite the visa granting processes and how delays were costing New Zealand millions of dollars, especially in the tourism and education sectors.
Grahame Morton, principal policy advisor, Americas and Asia, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said trade had grown 40 per cent since 2014, but there that had been a change in in the sense that there has been a significant drop in commodity trade but increase in goods and services.
Morton, who has worked in India in the past, added that Prime Minister Ardern had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month, when she conveyed to him that her government is looking at stronger and deeper ties between both the country, making New Zealand and India good partners in the Indo-Pacific.
Bhav Dhillon, India's honorary consul in Auckland, described India as a land of opportunities, the fastest growing economy with a burgeoning middle class which presented an opportunity like no other. To take trade relationships further, he highlighted the need for direct connectivity between the two nations.
He outlined examples of success stories through the Make in India programme such as Glidepath and Rakon.
Dhillon said pharmaceuticals and the services sector showed great promise. He emphasised on the role that 225,000 Indians who lived in New Zealand could play in becoming a bridge to doing business in India.
INZBC chair Sameer Handa said the council had recently set up two new chapters in India with author Bharat Joshi and CricHQ chief executive Sridhar Venkatraman heading the Delhi and Mumbai chapters respectively. Another initiative the council took this year was a quarterly magazine titled Kia Ora India, Handa added.
Fonterra's Judith Swales outlined Fonterra's recent experience in launching the Fonterra Future Joint Venture in India and the new Dreamery brand.
Asia New Zealand Foundation's Suzannah Jessep said India got its share of negative press, but these should not define the country. However, perceptions were now changing due to access to a multiple number of new sources of information, she said.
Successful IT entrepreneur Carmen Vicelich said in going to dynamic markets like India, there was often the need for presence on the ground such as having a local country manager and having more face-to-face meetings and interactions.
The summit started new conversations on topics like, the role of Maori economy in international trade (with the presence of Liz Mellish) and the role of high value sectors in New Zealand exports to India.
The session on high value sectors, curated by international trade enthusiast Sunil Kaushal, discussed potential areas of collaboration in the field of space technology, aviation and IT services.
The interactive sessions saw enthusiastic participation from the audience at the day-long summit.