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India and Nepal trade missions very productive

The trade mission to India and Nepal was extremely successful, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

As a result of Mr Sutton's visit and dinner meeting with Indian information technology company chief executives in Bangalore, it is likely that a delegation of leading Indian IT companies will visit New Zealand early next year.

Mr Sutton led a trade mission of 19 business people, from mainly the education and agricultural sectors to Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi in India and then to Kathmandu in Nepal from November 14 to November 23.

India is a significant market for New Zealand goods and services with potential for growth. The Indian economy is a strong one, and has been growing at 10 per cent a year. For the year ending 31 March 2000 exports to India grew by 23% to $190 million.

Mr Sutton opened three of four education fairs held by New Zealand institutions in each Indian city visited. These were the first-ever New Zealand education fairs to be held in India.

The fairs were "a rip-roaring success", he said, with "waves of students all but swamping the New Zealanders manning the stalls".

"More than 2300 students were registered as having attended, with Delhi alone attracting 1000 students. Education marketers said the quality of the students attending surpassed expectations and were generally as good as or better than students at comparable fairs elsewhere in the world."

Mr Sutton said Auckland University and Auckland University of Technology had both made a significant number of offers of places to students.

A substantial proportion of the students looking to study here were post-graduate students.

Mr Sutton said Indian students were interested in New Zealand because our tertiary institutions were equal to those anywhere in the world, but were less expensive to attend.

As well as education services, good contacts were made in the information technology and food processing sectors, and some potential investment opportunities were discussed.

Mr Sutton said the Fletcher Food-led food processing network was making good gains in India. He had a dinner meeting with Indian food processing company chief executives in Mumbai.

There was also a lot of interest in livestock management, water management, and other agricultural areas.

The trade mission generated a great deal of publicity for New Zealand, Mr Sutton said.

There were at least 45 media articles in major daily newspapers across India, with two on the front page and with photos of New Zealand tourist sites. They covered in a positive way New Zealand's efforts to attract students, IT professionals, tourists, and Indian film-makers to New Zealand.

Mr Sutton said that publicity had helped market New Zealand's education system. The number of email hits on Trade NZ's education site in Delhi are now running about 30 a day.

From India, Mr Sutton went to Nepal, to support New Zealand's wool sales. Nepal is an important market for New Zealand, with exports estimated to account for somewhere around $45 million, with a large proportion of shipments transhipped through Calcutta.

It was the first New Zealand Ministerial visit to Nepal for at least 10 years.

Mr Sutton said his visit was well-received by wool industry officials in Nepal.

New Zealand is also chairing the panel considering Nepal's accession to the World Trade Organisation.


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