Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 


Early signs India-NZ free trade deal is back on: Groser

Early signs India-NZ free trade deal is back on: Groser

By Pattrick Smellie

July 8 (BusinessDesk) - The newly elected government in India is giving cautious signals that the stalled free trade agreement with New Zealand will come back onto the agenda, although it will have to include a commitment to competitive markets and the agricultural sector if it's to succeed, Trade Minister Tim Groser says.

Speaking to a one day India-New Zealand Business Council summit in Auckland, Groser's is the first substantive commentary since the landslide victory in May for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ushered in the prospect of the Asian giant's stalled economic reform agenda being revived. Prime Minister John Key and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce are both scheduled to speak at the conference.

Groser said since May, he had had "very private and informal discussions on exactly this topic with Ministers and senior officials of some of the most important countries in the world."

"We are all in full listening mode," said Groser. "Depending on what answers we receive from New Delhi – and no-one is expecting clarity soon – New Zealand, and countries far more important than us in international affairs, will maintain or re-calibrate their own agendas and negotiating positions."

Acknowledging that he was presuming to advise the new Indian administration, Groser said he was doing so only because of the signals the New Zealand government has been getting from New Delhi on the prospects for opening India's relatively heavily protected economy.

"We have already had some preliminary and friendly conversations with the new Indian Government on these matters," said Groser. "I would not be making the quite blunt views ... expressed in this speech about competition and the need for new thinking on trade policy if I thought such views were completely out of tune with emerging thinking in New Delhi. I am not that reckless.

"Having said that, we fully understand that the new policy of the government is not yet settled. Important industry still needs to better understand the benefits of FTAs and their link to economic growth. There is also an internal review of trade policy taking place in New Delhi that needs to be completed."

The New Zealand and Indian governments began negotiating an FTA in 2009, following a Prime Ministerial business delegation to India, but it lost momentum after the then Congress Party-led party backtracked on broader reforms that would have opened up retail and supply chain competition in India.

Groser said there was no way around the need "to introduce more competition into the Indian economy."

"Today, the evidence that competition through trade liberalisation helps your country is literally overwhelming," he said. "If you seek to protect your country or sector with heavy insulation from import competition, you have to accept the corollary – the country or sector in question is not going to cut it internationally."

However, only political decision-makers could drive a ship to "open up, incrementally and intelligently, to trade."

Using the ground-breaking FTA with China as his example, Groser said New Zealand's size meant "we are an ideal test-case for a progressive approach to liberalisation and explains our strategic role when China was looking for its first outward-looking FTA partner."

The China FTA had led to New Zealand developing "astonishing ties" with China, with the potential for a relationship of the same order of magnitude or greater with India.

"New Zealand is committed to rapidly progressing the FTA negotiation to its conclusion if the Indian Government desires," said Groser, announcing New Zealand's chief negotiator would travel to New Delhi this month to pick up the talks.

"However, if we receive the green light from New Delhi, we will come hard up again on the central problem New Zealand has not only with India but with every country we negotiate with: agriculture liberalisation, without which NZ cannot enter into any FTA," said Groser.

"Somehow, we have yet to convince some of our negotiating partners that there are not secret convoys of NZ milk tankers, hidden behind the Bombay Hills near Auckland, and just waiting to flood their country with milk, given half a chance through trade liberalisation."

Instead, the New Zealand dairy industry would need to invest globally for much of its future, with Indian farmers currently accounting for 14 percent of total world dairy production, with potential for efficiency gains to increase that share.

"New Zealand companies could play a role in the process of modernisation of Indian agriculture. We have already seen New Zealand companies play this role in China," said Groser. "I am therefore convinced that we can chart a pathway through the agricultural political minefield to conclude an FTA with India that includes agriculture. In those areas where NZ is absolutely cutting edge, I am sure NZ agricultural technology and, longer-term, NZ investment can be part of the India’s agriculture answer, not part of the problem."

(BusinessDesk)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Sky City : Auckland Convention Centre Cost Jumps By A Fifth

SkyCity Entertainment Group, the casino and hotel operator, is in talks with the government on how to fund the increased cost of as much as $130 million to build an international convention centre in downtown Auckland, with further gambling concessions ruled out. The Auckland-based company has increased its estimate to build the centre to between $470 million and $530 million as the construction boom across the country drives up building costs and design changes add to the bill.
More>>

ALSO:

RMTU: Mediation Between Lyttelton Port And Union Fails

The Rail and Maritime Union (RMTU) has opted to continue its overtime ban indefinitely after mediation with the Lyttelton Port of Christchurch (LPC) failed to progress collective bargaining. More>>

Earlier:

Science Policy: Callaghan, NSC Funding Knocked In Submissions

Callaghan Innovation, which was last year allocated a budget of $566 million over four years to dish out research and development grants, and the National Science Challenges attracted criticism in submissions on the government’s draft national statement of science investment, with science funding largely seen as too fragmented. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Spark, Voda And Telstra To Lay New Trans-Tasman Cable

Spark New Zealand and Vodafone, New Zealand’s two dominant telecommunications providers, in partnership with Australian provider Telstra, will spend US$70 million building a trans-Tasman submarine cable to bolster broadband traffic between the neighbouring countries and the rest of the world. More>>

ALSO:

More:

Statistics: Current Account Deficit Widens

New Zealand's annual current account deficit was $6.1 billion (2.6 percent of GDP) for the year ended September 2014. This compares with a deficit of $5.8 billion (2.5 percent of GDP) for the year ended June 2014. More>>

ALSO:

Still In The Red: NZ Govt Shunts Out Surplus To 2016

The New Zealand government has pushed out its targeted return to surplus for a year as falling dairy prices and a low inflation environment has kept a lid on its rising tax take, but is still dangling a possible tax cut in 2017, the next election year and promising to try and achieve the surplus pledge on which it campaigned for election in September. More>>

ALSO:

Job Insecurity: Time For Jobs That Count In The Meat Industry

“Meat Workers face it all”, says Graham Cooke, Meat Workers Union National Secretary. “Seasonal work, dangerous jobs, casual and zero hours contracts, and increasing pressure on workers to join non-union individual agreements. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Business
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news