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Agreement reached with India to promote trade

Agreement reached with India to promote trade levels

Trade Minister Phil Goff says agreement in principle to commence a study into the implications of a free trade agreement between India and New Zealand, was a useful outcome of discussions with his Indian counterpart, Kamal Nath.

"While achieving a free trade agreement with India would require us to overcome significant obstacles, agreement in principle to conduct a study into what such an agreement would mean for both of our countries, would be a good start", said Mr Goff.

"This will be progressed later this year in a planned Joint Trade Commission meeting between the two countries, which is likely to be held in September.

"With economic growth averaging around 8 percent per annum over the last three years, India is becoming an increasingly important market and trading partner for New Zealand. In fact, with exports to India rising to $355 million in the year to February 2007, it is currently our second fastest growing export destination. Rapid growth in tourist and student numbers from India are also making a significant contribution to New Zealand’s economy.

"However, that trade still only represents a fraction of its potential. New Zealand–India two-way trade at less than $650 million compares with nearly $7 billion in our two way trade with China. New Zealand has much in common with India, including language, political and legal institutions and a longstanding and warm relationship, which should make trade easier.

"In my discussions with Commerce Minister, Kamal Nath, I also raised our specific concerns about tariff and non-tariff barriers. Tariffs on key New Zealand food and beverage items are high and food safety controls, which exceed international standards, can prevent trade in areas such as dairy and meat.

"Education and tourism interests in New Zealand are expanding their markets, and the potential for a direct air service between Auckland and Mumbai within a few years, will assist in both areas,’ Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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