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Good Progress Being Made Towards NZ-India FTA

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

27 May 2008

New Zealand Trade Minister Phil Goff and Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath on Friday welcomed the strong progress being made towards a free trade agreement between the two countries.

Mr Goff, together with Jim Anderton, met with Nath on Thursday to review trading relations between India and New Zealand.

“Minister Nath and I were pleased that progress being made in the Study Group we agreed upon last year has been positive, and that discussions around the shape of an FTA negotiation have been very constructive,” Mr Goff stated, continuing:

“Given the success of the first two meetings of the Study Group, in New Delhi and in Auckland, we both hope that this process can be concluded before the end of the year. This would enable negotiations on a free trade agreement to commence quite soon afterwards."

The Trade Minister went on to reveal that:

“Kamal and I agreed that while trade in the last few years has grown strongly to a current level of $630 million, this still falls well below the potential for trade between us. Trade between New Zealand and China, for example, is now $7.5 billion and will grow rapidly now a free trade agreement has been signed.”

“We need businesses in both countries to focus on trading opportunities in the other. The negotiation and the conclusion of a free trade agreement would have this effect."

“The Agreement would not only address tariff barriers, which for New Zealand agricultural products are at high levels, but also other potential barriers such as technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phyto-sanitary restrictions and customs procedures. I am particularly pleased that the study is a comprehensive one, looking at all aspects of our trading relationship.”

And concluded:

“With food shortages in key commodity areas like dairy right across the world, including in India, now is a good time to address how we can cooperate more in trade in these areas."

“New Zealand agricultural technology, biotechnology and infrastructure engineering all have a big potential role to play in helping India lift food production."

“This is a very positive time for New Zealand – India trading and wider relationships, and the excellent tone of our meeting reflected this.”

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