We want FTA with India and it will be fair to both: New Zealand envoy Indian pla

David Pine, New Zealand's High Commissioner.
David Pine, New Zealand's High Commissioner.

Summary

  • Pine acknowledged the “misperception” that more open agricultural trade between the two countries will disproportionately benefit New Zealand, a factor that has stymied FTA negotiations

New Delhi: New Zealand is keen to conclude a free trade agreement (FTA) with India, the country's High Commissioner said as he sought to dispel the notion that such a deal will be skewed toward New Zealand.

“We’ve never made any secret of wanting a free trade agreement. Our general approach to free trade agreements, because we're an agricultural exporter, is that we like them to be comprehensive and cover everything, but we're not close minded. We’ll listen to anything that our friends in India and our friends in the Indian government say to us that they think would help lift it," David Pine told Mint.

India and New Zealand began negotiations on an FTA in 2010 but the last formal round of talks took place almost a decade ago in 2015.

Pine acknowledged the “misperception" that more open agricultural trade between the two countries will disproportionately benefit New Zealand, a view that has slowed FTA negotiations. 

He pointed out that the two sides are set to sign an agriculture cooperation agreement, which will see NZ's Zespri Ltd, the world's largest marketer of kiwi fruit, come to India and offer its services for agricultural modernization.

As part of this, the countries are also working to allow Indian table grape exports to New Zealand. These exports have faced trouble so far due to non-tariff barriers and phytosanitary standards, Pine said.

In a wide-ranging interview, Pine also said the two countries will sign a defence cooperation agreement to allow for greater staff exchanges, training and exercises.

“There's been a step-up in our defence cooperation. We signed a white shipping (non-military) agreement about a year-and-a-half ago. We're very close to signing the defence cooperation agreement that's been in the works for a while and I'm sure that it'll be done soon. I think you will see ship visits hopefully in both directions a bit more frequently."

New Zealand is keen to work as part of a 'Quad Plus' framework in areas such as disaster relief. The Quad grouping comprises Australia, India, Japan and the US.  

“New Zealand has watched the Quad pretty closely and we see it as contributing to the stability of our region. So if you look at the breadth of the Quad agenda, I think we're looking for things that we could do together with the Quad," he added.

India’s Navy chief visited New Zealand in 2019 while the latter’s Vice-Chief of Defence Staff visited India in November 2023. New Zealand’s Navy Chief is visiting New Delhi currently and will participate in the government-organized Raisina Dialogue this week.

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