Emphasising the significance that New Zealand places on open and free trade, Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker said, “Keeping supply lines and trade routes open, including with India was critically important for ensuring medical supplies including testing equipment was instrumental in government’s response to covid-19 health pandemic.”
Minister Parker was speaking at the Indian Weekender’s new show In Conversation on Wednesday, June 3, where he shared the government's immediate concerns and responses on keeping the trade routes and supply lines open amidst the global travel restrictions due to Covid 19 global pandemic.
The conversation began with a quick foray into the Minister’s memory lane to discuss his maiden visit to India earlier this year (February 24-28) where he led a trade delegation along with Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade Winston Peters, which coincidentally was also his last overseas trip before the global travel restrictions emerged as a response for preventing the spread of novel coronavirus.
The Minister said he was impressed with the dynamism of Indian economy and the vastness of the Indian market and reiterated the belief that NZ’s technology and products (particularly dairy and meat) can fulfil huge insatiable demand without jeopardising the interests of any local producer.
Minister of Trade & Economic Growth of New Zealand, David Parker calls on Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi (Image: Ministry of Finance, Twitter)
Notably, the Minister was referring to India’s reluctance for joining the thirteen nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and was quick to point that there were other ways to deepen the already existing trade and business connections between the two countries.
When asked how the government envisaged the role of trade in leading the post-Covid-19 economic recovery, Mr Parker emphasised that “more trade and not less” should be an ideal response for New Zealand and the rest of the world.
“We responded quickly by making phone calls to our traditional partners such as Singapore, Australia and others to ensure we keep our supply lines for critical products open,” Mr Parker said.
“India is a major supplier of medicinal products including various components of medicines required for other medicines that we were keen to procure during early days of Covid-19 pandemic to boost our testing facilities and overall preparedness.”
“Our officials spoke with our Indian partners and we were able to timely get those medical supplies,” Mr Parker said.
DAVID PARKER MEETS WITH NITI AYOG CEO AMITABH KANT IN NEW DELHI IN FEBRUARY 2020
He also agreed that in the post-Covid-19 world there was huge room for enhancing and deepening the bilateral trade between the two countries.
On being asked about some growing signs of protectionism in different parts of the world, especially after anxieties in different countries in reducing their over-reliance on any one country for critical goods and medical supplies, Mr Parker cautiously conveyed that NZ was not against anyone country or overall protectionism.
However, he acknowledged the need for trade diversification to other parts of the world, including India.
“Just like any business, which wants diverse customers for their products, New Zealand has always been for diversification of trade,” Mr Parker said.
Elucidating further on his Ministry’s response to the Covid-19 economic crisis, Mr Parker also said that they have doubled the funding for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) - the government agency charged with helping New Zealand businesses to grow internationally.
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