Anthony Wenceslaus, chair of the India-New Zealand Business Council, recently visited India on a trade mission to strengthen even closer relations between India and New Zealand. Mr Wenceslaus talks to Indian Weekender about the success of his mission:
Q: On your recent personal overseas business visit including India you had taken time in your pursuit to promote Trade and Business between India and New Zealand. What would be the highlights?
A: The New Zealand High Commissioner in India Ms Jan Henderson had kindly hosted a luncheon meeting in her residence where the representatives of FICCI, CII, PHD Chamber of Commerce and ASSSOCHAM were invited. Ms Henderson was away due to prior commitment but Wendy Matthews, Deputy High Commissioner, and Gareth Pidgeon, Second Secretary, were present at the meeting.
INZBC, FICCI and CII are all working towards the same vision of a closer trade and business relationship between NZ and India. I had mentioned about my meeting with India’s Lead Negotiator for the FTA and the importance of concluding the negotiations, but it was also important that businesses develop their own links too. INZBC and FICC/CII had had good interaction during the PM’s visit, but needed to think about what they could do to make their engagement more regular and consistent. Everyone agreed there was much potential to grow the business relationship, but to do that more continuous dialogue and engagement would be required. There was agreement about a problem of perception. Indian business stakeholders felt NZ was too far away to do business with. More contact was needed to break this kind of perception. CII/FICCI noted the need to move beyond Delhi and Mumbai and look at business opportunities in Tier 2/3 cities. I had asked that INZBC’s Indian counterparts notify INZBC if there are any businesspeople who need information on doing business in NZ.
There was scope for co-operation in the agricultural sector. E.g. India could learn from NZ on apples’ post-harvest management. CII was working on facilitating more visits in this area and was happy to assist in other sectors too. Face-to-face interaction was important. CII was also happy to facilitate meetings between industry stakeholders, and to disseminate information among its network. CII, FICCI and PHD Chamber agreed we should pursue sector-focused small delegation visits between NZ and India. It was best to start with small projects to test what is feasible, before moving onto bigger projects. PHD Chamber Secretary General noted she was looking at putting together a delegation to go to NZ in November - probably in the Diary/Agritech fields. FICCI (Asst Sec Gen) suggested exploring initiatives and capacity building for women entrepreneurs. INZBC and its Indian counterpart organisations agreed to look for opportunities to hold a Joint Business Council meeting on the side-lines of a future ministerial visit.
There was some discussion about possibilities for co-operation in the services sector. I had noted NZ has a high quality education sector. NZ’s model of childcare may be of interest to India. There was already co-operation in the health sector. Deputy High Commissioner Wendy Matthews added that Indian businesses are engaged in NZ in the IT and financial sectors. PHD Chamber suggested sports management was another area with potential. Ms Matthews noted the sports scholarships and sports MOU initiatives. In Mumbai I had met Arvind Pradhan, Director General of Indian Merchants’ Chamber, and he was keen to establish a link to strengthen the business ties between India and NZ. Mr Pradhan was confident his organisation could play a positive role. The meeting with Mr Gavin Young, NZ Consul General and Trade Commissioner in Mumbai, was also very helpful. Discussion centred on the possibility of forging link with Indian Merchants Chamber in Mumbai who have very good membership.There was also a fruitful meeting with Dr Tarun Mandol, Member of Parliament and Dr Amit Mitra, West Bengal Finance Minister too was positive. The Finance Minister said that in certain projects Govt of West Bengal would participate in the Equity under the Public Private Partnership. He encourages businesses from New Zealand to look at such projects. I also met Steve Jones, Consul General and Trade Commissioner of NZ in Dubai, who said that NZ businesses could explore the possibility of trade and business between NZ and Gulf countries
Q: You had met Mr JK Dadoo, IAS, Chief Negotiator for India on FTA for New Zealand. What would be your assessment on the FTA?
A: Mr Dadoo gave an update and said that the Eighth Round had just concluded in India. Discussions are to continue and still some more sensitive areas are to be addressed. However, he was pleased to note that major Business Organizations are forging a link to promote bi-lateral trade between both the countries. He also conveyed that Business Organizations in India with whom we have links should promote NZ to its members. He said that Indian business stakeholders felt NZ was too far away to do business with. More contact was needed to break this kind of perception I am of the opinion that while negotiations are taking place at the official level between both the Governments- business people who understand business and the advantages of an FTA between both the countries should keep the dialogue going between the negotiators of both the countries and that would be of great help in accelerating the positive outcome.
Q: What would you like to add in conclusion?
A: In summary, NZ companies wanting to do business with India can have direct access to the likes of FICCI, CII, PHD Chamber of Commerce, ASSOCHAM and other similar organizations and through them to its members. The NZ High Commission in Delhi and Consul General Office in Mumbai are also very keen to assist NZ Companies. We have the Indian High Commission, MFAT, NZTE, and INZBC here in NZ who would be of assistance to NZ Companies too. I would say THINK INDIA! THINK LONG-TERM- which was the theme of the recent ANZ - India New Zealand Business Forum on India. India is one of the oldest countries in the World - evidences goes back to 1000 of years and it had so many empires and rulers .Today, it is a very powerful economic country of 1.3 billion people – a vibrant democratic country with the Executive, Parliament, Judiciary and free media. Most sectors, industry, services and the who’s who of the Global Corporates are having their presence in India.
You cannot go wrong, do your due diligence. Don’t be in a terrible rush – stay there.