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Strategies For Building A Stronger New Zealand - India Relationship

Focus on partnerships and collaborations to ensure business continuity in a post COVID world - this strong message of recovery was reflected in an insightful panel discussion at the first in-person event held by the India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC), in 2020. The event was held last week, on 12 November at the Westpac Head office in Auckland.

Scheduled to coincide with the auspicious occasion of Diwali, INZBC, hosted the Indian High Commissioner, H.E. Muktesh Pardeshi, along with Andrew Needs, Divisional Manager, South and South East Asia Division, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade; Carmen Vicelich, CEO, Velocity Global and Simon Lowe, SME Lead, Institutional & Business Banking, Westpac, for a networking event.

With an opening note from INZBC Chairman, Sameer Handa, the discussion revolved around the impact and recovery of trade and business post lockdown and COVID-19. Speaking to an audience of over 50 business leaders, H.E. Muktesh Pardeshi led the conversation and elaborated on the need to reevaluate strategies to enhance economic engagement between New Zealand and India.

H.E. Muktesh Pardeshi said, “A good way of looking on how to further engage with each other, is to not merely find markets, but finding partnerships, innovative partnerships. India is looking for investment, but more than investment, India is looking for collaboration in technology, innovation, best practices in areas such as ease of doing business.”

His sentiment was reiterated by Andrew Needs, Divisional Manager, South and South East Asia Division, MFAT who during the panel discussion highlighted that while India is a vast and growing potential market, it is equally important to understand what the country wants. He said that India is looking for partnerships and capability support for its development aspirations.

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Andrew also went into detail, outlining the ministry’s action plan for the new government. He stated that, “the High Commission and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise are exploring how investment presence in India can be strengthened”. MFAT is looking at collaborating with industries to develop state and sectoral specific strategies for the Indian market and will be holding trade and economic talks in 2021 to try and pursue the overall India strategy.

Building on Andrew’s statement on reading the market, Carmen Vicelich, CEO, Velocity Global talked about recognising the need to pivot and being agile. She gave an example of how her company, instead of growing their newest product in a bigger Indian market, is currently focused on business continuity with a launch in Australia and New Zealand.

Talking about entrepreneurship during tough times, Carmen said, “You need to recognise when you need to pivot and be agile, and understand actually how to change what your plan was, to suit where you are now. Because you can’t sit and wait for things. I always picture that success is like a boat in the water - if you just sit there, thinking we’ll float till it all settles down, you’re just going to drift with the wind and the tide.”

Addressing tough times, Simon Lowe, SME Lead, Institutional & Business Banking, Westpac highlighted the importance of partnerships as well as good governance during such uncertain times. He said, “Businesses that did well during the lockdown, had good existing relationships with their people but they also had good governance. Partnership is fine but you also need a good governance structure around that, regardless of the size of your business.” Simon continued on to give examples of how Westpac helped struggling small business owners pivot during lockdown.

The event concluded with a Q and A session with the audience and a thanks to INZBC board member, Sunil Kaushal for his moderation.

This event will be followed by a networking event in Christchurch on the 1st of December with the Indian High Commissioner, Muktesh Pradesh and Leeann Watson, Chief Executive Office at the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce where they will discuss India Unplugged: Diwali - Business and Diplomacy.

To register for the event, email: secretariat@inzbc.org

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