Last week I returned from my second successful trip as Prime Minister to India.
The aim of the trip was to boost New Zealand’s ties with the world’s third-largest economy. That’s because I believe strongly that New Zealand’s future lies in being open and connected to the rest of the world.
As a small island nation, we won’t get rich selling things to itself. But we can, if we build strong and enduring global relationships. This will mean more opportunities and greater prosperity for New Zealanders.
During my trip to India, I visited New Delhi and Kochi and met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I was accompanied by a high-level business delegation, including former New Zealand cricketer Brendon McCullum.
Our economic relationship with India has grown significantly in the past five years, with two-way trade increasing by a third, but we can and should do more.
Following my meeting with Prime Minister Modi, we both agreed to work towards an earlier completion of a high-quality and comprehensive bilateral free trade agreement between our two countries.
We also pledged to continue to play constructive roles in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership talks. This deal involves 16 countries, including China and Korea and four of New Zealand’s other top 10 trading partners, and will help create significant trade and investment opportunities for New Zealand.
I was also delighted to announce that Prime Minister Modi accepted my invitation to visit New Zealand. I am sure all New Zealanders, including our large Indian community, will look forward to welcoming him in the future.
In India, I also attended a number of events in New Delhi and Kochi focused on showcasing the innovation of leading New Zealand companies doing business in India, as well as our reputation as a high-quality education and tourism destination.
Tourism is an important industry in New Zealand, with reports out just last week showing it contributed $14.5 billion to the economy and generated around 6,600 new tourism jobs in the year to March 2016.
While this is a great result, it is an industry we want to continue to grow. That’s why I took the opportunity to catch up with New Zealand tourism brand ambassador and Bollywood star Sidharth Malhotra at a Tourism New Zealand event in New Delhi.
He told me he was left star-struck after a trip to New Zealand—so much so, he is coming back with his friends and family. I am looking forward to having him back in New Zealand so he can see and experience even more of our great country and tell his millions of fans in India about it.
This positive trip to India has added to the good work that we’ve done this year to continue boosting New Zealand’s trading relationships
I believe our relationship with India is in a great place and will only continue to grow. This National-led government remains committed to strengthening the relationship and recognising India as a core trade, economic, political and education partner.