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Jim Sutton Speech To Indian Joint Business Assoc.

Jim Sutton Speech To Indian Joint Business Association

OPENING OF THE INDIA/NEW ZEALAND JOINT BUSINESS COUNCIL 8.45am, 13 APRIL 2000 AUCKLAND

Honourable Minister Murasoli Maran and members of your delegation, Council chairman Paddy Marra, visitors from the business sector in India, New Zealand delegates, ladies and gentlemen.

This is the ninth meeting of the Joint Business Council. It has met at regular intervals since 1988. Its officials level counterpart, the Joint Trade Committee, will meet tomorrow in Wellington.

Those structures, set up twelve years ago, have served our countries well. Both sides have put substantial effort into it over the years. The Council has met at regular frequencies and important business relationships have been forged.

There has been good dividends for both countries. We can see it in the trade figures, where New Zealand and India are doing well in each other’s markets.

When we look at our own export figures, we see that India is one of our dozen fastest growing markets. While our markets in other Asian countries slowed down during the economic crisis of 1997 and 1998, the growth in our exports to India did not falter.

We are talking about increases of twenty percent in a single year. From $150 million dollars worth in 1998 to $180 million in 1999.

That's from a range of products: -

timber which has grown from zero to $25 million in only three years; manufactured products such as telecommunications equipment and

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food processing equipment; our traditional export, wool, which goes into India’s handknotted carpets; and coal for India’s industries.

India’s exports to New Zealand are also growing, - from $140 million dollars to $160 million in the twelve months from December 1998 to December 1999. While our market may not be very big, it is one of the most open in the world, and so there is ample opportunity for sales by Indian business people here.

W have in this Council a group of business people who are committed to an expanded trading relationship, backed by officials who do their part to break down institutional barriers to trade - major contributors to this growth.

I salute the important work you will be doing today, building on the achievements of the past twelve years.

We in New Zealand also recognise the important work the Indian Government is doing to liberalise its economy and we applaud that. It is not an easy experience to go through.

In the New Zealand Government elected late last year I speak for agriculture as well as trade. In our economy the two go logically together.

And so it should not surprise you when I say that I look forward to the day when we are able to supply the Indian market with our high-quality dairy products.

A start has been made with kiwifruit and with apples. Indeed in the case of apples, a cooperative effort is under way to assist in the development of the Indian apple industry and its export arm. As our two growing seasons do not coincide, we are not in direct competition with each other.

So against that background I was disappointed to learn of an increase just this week in the tariff on apples imported into India.

Here in New Zealand we look forward to an early resumption of the multilateral trade negotiations. I was disappointed the Ministerial conference in Seattle got us off to a bad start, but I am working for early

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progress. For too long, agricultural trade has been excluded from the benefits of the multilateral trading system.

Mr Maran, distinguished guests, I am very happy to be here today, and to lend my support on behalf of the New Zealand Government to the work you are about to undertake.

To Mr Maran and your delegation, a hearty welcome to New Zealand. Your stay with us is short, but in the time available, you will have the opportunity to see something of our industries in areas where there is scope for cooperation with India.

It is my hope that in the fairly near future I will be able to reciprocate your gesture in joining us here for this meeting in Auckland, and make a visit to India myself. I look forward to leading a group of New Zealand business people to explore further opportunities there. I understand, Mr Minister, that in a few minutes you will shortly be launching a presentation called Destination India. I look forward to hearing it. I too want the words ‘Destination India’ to appear in my travel programme during the year to come.

Thank you.


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