Opening of negotiations on a free trade agreement between India and New Zealand is good news for primary producers and the wider economy.
Trade Minister Tim Groser said we have yet to realise the full potential in our trade and economic relationship with India.
“We export coal, timber, wool, hides and skins to India, but relatively few of New Zealand’s traditional food exporters have been able to access the Indian market.
“As well as working to improve the terms of access for our traditional agricultural sector, it is critical that we focus on emerging niche sectors in which New Zealand and Indian companies can collaborate.
“India is a growing market for a range of New Zealand services and technology. Over 23,000 Indian tourists and 5,000 students came to New Zealand last year. India is also a major potential source of investment capital.
Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson welcomed the announcement:
“With $60 million of wool exported each year India represents a ‘green fields’ market for sheep meat. Sheep meat is widely consumed and unaffected by religious dietary requirements where meat is consumed.
“Aside from being the second most populous nation on earth, English is the principal language of business and India shares a common legal as well as social bond with New Zealand. They know New Zealand and a multilayered approach to exports, from high to low value goods, is within our grasp.
“Last year, the Wall Street Journal estimated there were some 100,000 millionaires in India with a massively expanding middle class estimated to be 300 million strong. The prospect of an FTA means the sky really is the limit,” Mr Nicolson concluded.
Opening negotiaions is just a start and reaching agreement could take a couple of years but improved access to a market where people are already familiar with lamb and mutton when the global sheep population would be very good news for farmers.