Speech: ‘Cricket World Cup 100 Days to Go’ Business Reception
This is my first visit to India, and it is clear the opportunity and potential here is abundant.
My time here has been very successful. I have just come from a meeting with my counterpart, the Indian Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh.
I took the opportunity to note that New Zealand is sharing its expertise in the fields of agribusiness, IT, hospitality and tourism with India.
While here in India, I took the opportunity as the first New Zealand Minister to meet the new Modi Government to congratulate the Government on its election success. I also explained our recent economic record as a country, and highlight the wealth of reciprocal opportunities between our nations.
Similar to President Modi, the National Party of New Zealand has just won our most recent election. This third-term Government will provide strong and stable leadership for New Zealand over the next three years.
Economically, New Zealand is now rebounding from the Global Financial Crisis which we came through relatively well thanks to sensible economic management. Latest figures show a growth in jobs, and the rate of unemployment down to 5.4 percent.
There are many reasons why New Zealand presents opportunities for Indian companies.
New Zealand ranks first in the world for protecting investors, lack of corruption and starting a business. Overall, we rank third in the world for ease of doing business. And New Zealand was recently ranked second among the top 34 OECD countries in tax competitiveness.
New Zealand is a globally competitive producer of high-quality goods. As a largely agricultural economy and a trading nation, we are export-focused and pride ourselves on the world-class quality of our products.
But we’re also an innovative country and have a globally competitive specialised manufacturing and services sector. We see strong interest from India in the innovation and integrity of New Zealand products and services, which offer fresh solutions especially when scaled up with Indian partners.
It’s important to reiterate that New Zealand is not here to compete with India – we have neither the intent, nor the scale to do so. We export to around 160 countries and can only feed 40 million people in total.
What we are here for is greater collaboration and cooperation across a range of business initiatives.
Our two nations have a longstanding and warm relationship. We share a Commonwealth heritage, legal system, business language and a commitment to democracy. New Zealand is also now home to over 155,000 Indians, who are a growing and important part of New Zealand’s society, economy and culture.
This visit presents significant opportunities for Indian and New Zealand businesses to build and grow tangible connections for mutual advantage. New Zealanders believe that enduring partnerships begin with great relationships. That’s why we value our strong connection with India, and why events like this one are so important.
I am proud to be here today alongside some of New Zealand’s finest export companies.
From wine to lamb to kiwifruit, in this room we have the producers and importers of some of New Zealand’s finest food and beverage products.
We also have the company behind world leading travel-booking and restaurant software systems, and a global leader in dairy nutrition.
Some of these companies are already well established in India, and some are looking at India as a potential export market for the first time.
What they have in common is a commitment to bring their solutions and products to the Indian market. New Zealand views India as a valuable important trading partner, which is clearly illustrated by the companies you have in the room with you today.
We also have the India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) as part of this delegation. The INZBC has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Confederation of Indian industry, further strengthening ties between these two business associations and a group of 130 Information and Technology companies.
These relationships are important – they allow dialogue, a better understanding and opportunity for our respective business communities.
These MOUs are another important part of the ongoing initiatives to link-up Indian and New Zealand business people already underway.
There are important opportunities in India for New Zealand to expand our trade and investments in agriculture, the food and beverage sector, ICT, tourism, specialised manufacturing and services, biotechnology, aviation, minerals, wood and green technologies.
We welcomed Prime Minster Modi’s key economic policies such as his focus on lifting productivity in the agricultural sector, addressing India’s energy needs through both thermal and renewable energy initiatives and focusing on India’s tourism and aviation sectors.
New Zealand is well positioned to be a partner in India’s development story – to share our expertise and experience. And we are also well positioned partners for India’s businesses.
India is an important trading partner for New Zealand and it is a priority country for my government. Worth approximately $1 billion in two-way trade, India is our 18th largest trading partner – but we can and should be doing much better.
We need to continue to push for progress on the bilateral Free Trade Agreement between our countries, and also the Open Skies Agreement.
As you may know, one of our major cities, Christchurch, suffered a devastating earthquake a few years ago. The reconstruction effort has been a major priority for my Government.
We are delighted that the opening game of the Cricket World Cup will be played in Christchurch, providing a huge boost to the city and its people.
The Christchurch rebuild is a US$24billion construction programme, and will be one of the largest construction investment opportunities ever to be seen in New Zealand. Ultimately, the private sector will play the biggest role in the redevelopment of Christchurch’s central city, and the Government is doing all it can to make it easy to invest there.
The reconstruction effort presents a number of opportunities: reconstruction has been good for business; it has been an opportunity for job creation, domestic and foreign investment and innovation.
But it has also been an opportunity for us to re-evaluate what the needs of a modern city are, and to design, almost from scratch, a smart, vibrant, sustainable city.
And of course we have a shared love of cricket! Part of my visit’s purpose here is to also welcome Indian cricket lovers to visit New Zealand for the Cricket World Cup which we are co-hosting with Australia in early 2015.
It’s only 100 days to go until New Zealand hosts the first game in Christchurch. Cricket legend Stephen Fleming, who is well known in India, is a big part of promoting this tournament that will be watched by an estimated two billion viewers around the globe.
As well as a great tourist destination, with some outstanding cricket to be watched, a visit to New Zealand during the Cricket World Cup will be an opportunity to scope out business opportunities between our two countries.
Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development will be hosting senior Indian business people during the Cricket World Cup, showing that our two nations can easily mix business with cricket.
In summary, the Indian market with a massive population of over 1.2 billion (half of which are under the age of 25), and a 300 million growing middle class, offers massive opportunities.
We already have proven people-to-people connections with New Zealand hosting 35,000 Indian tourists a year, and 155,000 Indians living in New Zealand.
This market will be a great source of future opportunities, and one that we will follow closely.
I look forward to continuing these discussions down in New Zealand early next year during the Cricket World Cup.