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Positive start to NZ-India FTA talks – Goff

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade

28 October 2007
Media statement

Positive start to NZ-India FTA talks – Goff

New Zealand and India have made good progress towards initiating a free trade agreement between the two countries, Trade Minister Phil Goff said today.

Senior New Zealand officials met their Indian counterparts in Wellington on Friday, where they held talks for most of the day. The Indian delegation was in New Zealand as part of a New Zealand-India joint trade committee.

Mr Goff said: "In my discussions with Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath in New Delhi in April, we agreed that it would make good sense to establish a joint study to examine the feasibility of a bilateral free trade agreement. Such a deal with one of the world’s most populous countries and fastest growing economies would have significant economic benefit for New Zealand.

“Senior officials, meeting in Wellington on Friday, have now made progress in agreeing the terms of reference for a Joint Study Group comprising officials from both countries. This arrangement will now be put forward for final Ministerial approval in New Delhi. I hope the Joint Study Group will be able to hold its first meeting early in 2008 and expect it to complete its work within 12 months."

Mr Goff said business representatives from both countries have expressed strong support for a bilateral FTA, most recently during the meeting of the New Zealand-India Business Council and its Indian counterpart in Auckland last week.

"Bilateral trade between the countries has grown rapidly in the past three years, albeit from a small base. New Zealand exports have risen from $200 million in 2004 to $337 million in 2006, and the prospects for further expansion are excellent – in the education sector, tourism as well as primary products.

“But there are also long-standing barriers into the Indian market, particularly around food and beverages, which we hope can be addressed.

"We expect the Joint Study Group to be tasked with examining the feasibility and scope of an FTA, involving goods, services and investment; and the prospects for wider economic cooperation. This is good news for our links with India with which we enjoy close relations through New Zealand’s local Indian community, growing tourism links and close political ties through membership of the Commonwealth and the East Asia Summit," Phil Goff said.


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