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Free Trade Agreement is immediate goal, says N Zealand; India agrees to speed up

NEW DELHI: Aiming to "unlock" the potential of their partnership, India and New Zealandon Tuesday decided to speed up the process for early conclusion of a Free Trade Agreement as the two countries discussed bilateral and regional issues. 

The two countries also reviewed the progress in firming up a 
Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with New Zealand saying that it "needs to be picked up" at its end. 

"Free Trade agreement is an immediate goal for us. In pursuing an FTA, we believe that the potential of the relationship between New Zealand and India will be unlocked," New Zealand
Foreign Minister Murray McCully told reporters here. 

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who held talks with McCully, said economic relations are a strong pillar in bilateral partnership. 

He said that both countries recognised that there is great potential to further strengthen bilateral trade and investment relations. 

"Our exports grew by 20 per cent to $ 302 million though our imports fell by 17 per cent to $ 686 million. We have recently liberalised imports of lamb from New Zealand. 

"India and New Zealand are currently working for early conclusion of a Free Trade Agreement. 
FTA will help further enhance our trade and investment relations in the future," Khurshid said. 

"So we both agreed that we will urge our Trade Ministers colleagues with regard to achieving this objective," McCully said. 

Talking about growing economic ties, Khurshid said a number of Indian companies in banking, minerals, IT and others have established business in New Zealand. 

"Our cooperation in agriculture, especially in high- yielding varieties, food processing and agro machinery are areas of further potential. 

"Collaboration in science and technology, with technology cooperation, joint projects and training is growing," he said. 

Asked why there was delay in signing up of a FTA, Khurshid said, "Good wine always takes time to mature".