NEW DELHI : New Zealand firms are interested in exploring limited trade arrangements with India to expand cooperation in agriculture, dairy and horticulture, among others sectors, said representatives of Kiwi trade groups during a recent visit to Delhi.

Bilateral talks on a free trade agreement stalled in 2015.

“We have come up with a large delegation here (to Delhi) and it’s really around building partnerships,” New Zealand trade and agriculture minister Damien O’Connor said during a visit to India in August.

“In 2011 former prime minister John Key launched the NZ Inc India Strategy, a plan for India to become a core trade, economic and political partner for New Zealand. The NZ-India FTA is a crucial step toward achieving that goal,” according to New Zealand’s foreign ministry.

Talks on the FTA began in 2010 and stalled after 10 rounds.

Now, in the absence of a free trade agreement, the country’s business groups want to explore the possibility of limited arrangements to boost trade.

“We’re always going to be interested in an FTA but it’s not on the agenda right now. We need to think about other ways. So we’re looking at trying to work out, in a series of different sectors, how we can put in place collaborative, cooperative arrangements that will deliver value for both sides.

Maybe it’s in horticulture whereby we can assist the development of the Indian horticulture industry, but also maybe get some value back for New Zealand in the offseason, when we’re not competing directly with Indian producers,” says Stephen Jacobi, a former trade diplomat who is Executive Director at the New Zealand International Business Forum.

Simon Bridges, a former leader of the Opposition, told Mint that Kiwi firms have taken an increased interest in India, after decades of focusing on Chinese markets.

“Of course China is a backdrop to some of this, but India more than sticks up on its merits for a medium term approach of getting up here regularly, trying to see more commercial relationships, investment opportunities, and so on,” said Bridges, who is CEO of the Auckland Business Chamber.

Annual bilateral trade between has remained below 2 billion over the last five years.

India is New Zealand’s 11th largest trading partner, according to the High Commission of India in Wellington, the country’s capital.

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Updated: 08 Sep 2023, 12:52 AM IST

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