India, New Zealand begin talks for free trade agreement

February 1st, 2010 - 2:32 pm ICT by IANS  

By Amandeep Kaur
Hamilton (New Zealand), Feb 1 (IANS) India and New Zealand have begun negotiations for a free trade agreement, a minister said here Monday.

New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser said the negotiations started in Switzerland where he met Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma last week.

Groser said negotiators would target the high barriers to trade.

“India has a population of more than one billion and is expected to be the third-largest economy in the world by 2025. I think they see New Zealand in strategic terms, because we are at the forefront of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), and India wants to join.”

India-New Zealand Businessmen Council chairman Wenceslaus Anthony said that despite barriers, India was one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing markets and exports had tripled in the past decade.

“Exports to India have increased dramatically in the past two years with much of that increase coming from coal, milk powder and logs from South Island areas. But many of the hi-tech industries in and around Christchurch also have an interest in the Indian market.

“India’s growth rate having recovered quickly from the economic recession, our council has noticed a much increased level of interest amongst New Zealand companies in the Indian market.”

Exports to India have increased dramatically in the past two years with much of that increase coming from coal that accounts for almost half of total export, NZ $653 million. New Zealand’s imports from India have also grown significantly in recent years.

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