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The New Zealand government is working closely with all partners at the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in targeting a positive and quality FTA with India.
However, New Zealand has to consider any trade negotiations on its merits and benefits for Kiwi companies. 
This was the essence of the talks Trade Minister Todd McClay had with trade and corporate sector heads at a recent meeting organised by the India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC).

INZBC organised a talk session with a group of companies working actively with the Indian market, on September 7th, in Auckland. The purpose was to get a direct view of the trade minister, Todd McClay, on the ongoing negotiations with RCEP.
The trade minister reiterated that, “RCEP builds on New Zealand’s already strong relationships in Asia, and will open up more opportunities for New Zealand businesses in these fast growing economies.”

There are 16 countries involved in the RCEP: the ten members of ASEAN plus the six countries with which ASEAN has free trade agreements: Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand. These six countries are known as the ASEAN Free Trade Partners (AFPs).

“Joining RCEP is an important step, for getting bigger access to the New Zealand market,” said McClay. “RCEP countries have a total population of more than three billion, a total GDP of around $US23 trillion and they account for about 27 percent of global trade. 
“RCEP has the potential to increase business across the board in New Zealand,” he said. 

It’s a comprehensive agreement, covering trade in goods, services, investment, economic and technical co-operation, intellectual property, competition, e-commerce, and so on. 
RCEP will ensure better market access for New Zealand businesses throughout Asia, elimination of tariffs for exporters and more opportunities for New Zealand’s service sector. 

Speaking on the roadblocks on the direct FTA with India, McClay said New Zealand is working positively with the Indian government on their concerns. One of their main concerns is New Zealand’s access to the dairy and primary produce market. 
The minister clarified that concern: “The New Zealand government is of the view that given the difference in scale of the markets, our primary sector can never threaten the Indian industry”. 

The minister appreciated the efforts being taken by INZBC in engaging with the industry and government on both sides to create a positive atmosphere for the talks. 

National MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi said the government has been working hard to open markets for Kiwi companies, even through TPP. 
“Minister McClay has personally visited most of the countries involved in the TPP discussions, to understand their concerns and develop relationships for New Zealand”.

McClay highlighted the benefit of the TPP for the nation’s economy. 
“TPP would give New Zealand better access to globally significant markets, with 12 countries partnering. It would diversify New Zealand’s trade and investment relationships, and provide a platform to build on the NZ$28 billion of New Zealand goods and services exported to TPP countries in 2014”. 

Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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