Trade Mission to India

  • Dr Lockwood Smith

Trade Minister Lockwood Smith met today with the India/New Zealand Business Council to plan next month's trade mission to the subcontinent.

"The mission will consist of top New Zealand exporters and educationalists keen to explore India's vast and growing market, particularly in light of the Asian Economic Crisis," Dr Smith said today.

"While much of Asia is experiencing recession, the Indian Government expects continued economic growth of around 6% in a market with one of the largest middle classes in the world.

"With India continuing to liberalise and open its economy, it is a market worthy of greater attention by New Zealand businesspeople."

Dr Smith's visit to India will be the first by a New Zealand minister since Bill English attended Mother Teresa's funeral in September last year and the first by New Zealand's trade minister since Mike Moore in 1986.

His trade mission will be focussed on the Eighth Session of the Joint India/New Zealand Business Councils to be held in New Delhi on Monday 11 October. The twenty-two New Zealand participants will include representatives from our wool, construction, banking, transport and education sectors.

While in India, Dr Smith will meet with key Indian ministers in New Delhi and key Indian businesspeople in Mumbai.

New Zealand's exports to India increased 33% during the year to June to a total of $164 million, while New Zealanders buy $138 million of Indian products a year.

Wool has traditionally been New Zealand's main export earner but timber has increased dramatically to $27 million a year since India prohibited logging of indigenous forests in its North-eastern timber-belt, and reduced tariffs.

This year, New Zealand became the first country in the world to export kiwifruit to India and we are also seeking early access for our apples. Other New Zealand exports to India include dairy products and a vast range of products from dried peas to laser technology.

Tourism from India is improving with a 20% increase to more than 5,000 arrivals in the year to June 1998. However, only 110 of the 10,000 Indian students studying abroad came to New Zealand this year.

"Clearly there are good opportunities to increase our exports, and attract more Indian tourists and students," Dr Smith said.

Returning from India, Dr Smith will stop in Singapore to discuss APEC developments with his counterpart, Trade Minister Lee Yock Suan.

Dr Smith leaves New Zealand on Friday 9 October and returns on Friday 16 October.