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Govt Must Take Survey Findings Seriously

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The recent survey conducted by the Asia New Zealand Foundation, which identifies India as
the third most crucial country for New Zealand’s future underscores a pressing need for our
government to rejuvenate and strengthen our bilateral relations. As awareness grows
among Kiwis of India’s expanding global influence and economic strength, it is imperative
that New Zealand seizes this momentum to forge a more robust partnership with this South
Asian powerhouse.
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Over the past decade, despite India’s remarkable economic growth and increasing global
prominence, trade between our nations has paradoxically declined. This trend is at odds
with global patterns where countries are actively enhancing their economic engagements
with India. New Zealand cannot afford to remain stagnant in this evolving global landscape.
It is crucial for us to align ourselves with the global trend and harness the opportunities
presented by India’s dynamic growth trajectory.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, now in his third term, India has
emerged as not only the world’s fastest-growing major economy but also a leader in sectors
like fintech, cyber technology, artificial intelligence, and renewable energy. These
advancements present substantial opportunities for collaboration between our nations.
The significant cultural ties forged through Indian immigration to New Zealand provide a
solid foundation for deeper bilateral engagement. The Indian diaspora in New Zealand is
vibrant and growing, contributing to our multicultural tapestry and fostering personal and
professional connections that can be leveraged for stronger bilateral relations.
The survey findings serve as a wake-up call for policymakers. A notable 58 per cent of New
Zealanders now view India as crucial to our future, marking a significant shift from previous
perceptions. Additionally, 12 per cent of respondents believe India will become the most
influential Asian country in the next two decades, highlighting the urgency for a strategic re-
evaluation and deepened cooperation. This growing recognition among the New Zealand
public is a signal that our government must not ignore.
Suzannah Jessep, Chief Executive of the Asia New Zealand Foundation, rightly underscores
the anticipation of India’s multifaceted influence, spanning economic, cultural, and
technological domains. As New Zealand seeks to diversify its international partnerships and
reduce dependency on traditional allies, India emerges as a pivotal strategic partner.
Diversifying our international relationships is not just a strategic choice but a necessity in an
increasingly multipolar world. India’s rising influence and economic clout make it an
indispensable partner for New Zealand.
The New Zealand government must act decisively to capitalise on this shifting public
sentiment. This entails not only revitalising trade relations but also fostering collaborations
in education, technology, and cultural exchanges. New Zealand’s expertise in agriculture
and renewable energy, for instance, complements India's technological innovations and
growing market demand. Collaborative efforts in these sectors can lead to significant
advancements and mutual benefits. For instance, New Zealand’s agricultural technologies
can help enhance India’s agricultural productivity, while India's advancements in renewable
energy can contribute to New Zealand's sustainability goals.
In a rapidly evolving global landscape, characterised by shifting geopolitical dynamics, New
Zealand cannot afford complacency. Strengthening ties with India is not just prudent but
essential for the country’s future prosperity and resilience. The time to intensify
engagement is now before other nations fully capitalise on the opportunities India
presents. New Zealand’s strategic interests and economic prosperity are intertwined with
India’s growth and global ascent.
The Asia New Zealand Foundation’s survey serves not only as a gauge of public sentiment
but also as a strategic blueprint for New Zealand’s future. As Kiwis, we must urge the
government to redouble efforts in cultivating a dynamic and mutually beneficial relationship
with India. Embracing this opportunity will not only strengthen bilateral ties but also secure
a prosperous and resilient future for New Zealand. The time for action is now, and the
rewards of a strengthened New Zealand-India partnership will be significant for future generations.
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