A Diwali networking session hosted by India New Zealand Business Council has re-emphasised that India is looking for long-term partnerships and not just buyer-seller relationship.

The networking session was held last week on Thursday, November 12, at the Westpac Head office in Auckland, and was attended among others by the Indian High Commissioner, Muktesh Pardeshi, along with Andrew Needs, Divisional Manager, South and South-East Asia Division, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade; Carmen Vicelich, CEO, Velocity Global and Simon Lowe, SME Lead, Institutional & Business Banking, Westpac.

Unlocking the full potential of New Zealand – India bilateral trade, has been a much-cherished goal for the past many years, including a potential Free Trade Agreement (FTA) either bilaterally or in regional-settings such as recently concluded Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnerships (RCEP).

Notably, NZ has recently signed RCEP last week, while India has chosen to withdraw from the talks after being committed for many years sighting the unfavourable trade balance with China – another signatory to the proposed regional Free Trade Agreement.

Emphasising on how India visualises the trading world and mutual opportunities Indian envoy Mr Pardeshi said, “A good way of looking on how to further engage with each other, is not merely to find markets, but finding partnerships, innovative partnerships. India is looking for investment, but more than investment, India is looking for collaboration in technology, innovation, best practices in areas such as ease of doing business.”

Refreshingly, similar sentiments were reiterated by Divisional Manager, South and South-East Asia Division, MFAT, Mr Needs who during the panel discussion highlighted that while India is a  vast and growing potential market, it is equally important to understand what the country wants. He said that India is looking for partnerships and capability support for its development aspirations.

Andrew also went into detail, outlining the ministry’s action plan for the new government. He stated that “the High Commission and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise are exploring how investment presence in India can be strengthened”. MFAT is looking at collaborating with industries to develop state and sectoral specific strategies for the Indian market and will be holding trade and economic talks in 2021 to try and pursue the overall India strategy.

Earlier, delivering the opening note at the networking session, Sameer Handa INZBC Chairman spoke about the impact and recovery of trade and business post lockdown and COVID-19.

The need for businesses to remain agile in the post-covid world affirmed

Speaking on occasion, Carmen Vicelich, CEO, Velocity Global, affirmed the need for businesses to remain agile and innovative in the uncertain times of the post-Covid world.

“You need to recognise when you need to pivot and be agile, and understand actually how to change what your plan was, to suit where you are now. Because you can’t sit and wait for things, I always picture that success is like a boat in the water - if you just sit there, thinking we’ll float till it all settles down, you’re just going to drift with the wind and the tide,” Carmen said.

India’s post-Covid economic recovery shows positive signs

Meanwhile, a recent report by Goldman Sachs has revised its FY21 growth forecast for India upwards.

“Overall, we expect real GDP growth to rebound to 13 per cent in FY22 (above consensus expectations of 10.9 per cent), after an expected -10.3 per cent contraction in FY21,” the report said.

“A pivotal assumption for our 2021 India growth outlook is broad-based availability of an effective vaccine, which could allow containment policies and mobility to normalise fully by mid-2022,” the economists at Goldman Sachs, in the report said.

The bilateral trade between the two countries has grown steadily in the last few years.

In September 2019, the two-way trade between India and New Zealand stood at $2.64 billion with goods exports to India worth $695 million and goods import from India $751 million.

Since 2011 tourism has more than doubled with over 65,000 Indian tourists visiting New Zealand in the year to November 2019.

During Covid inflicted lockdowns New Zealand and India have worked together to keep the trade routes open and ensuring the supply of pharmaceuticals and generic medicines – of which India is a global leader.