NZ prime minister to continue dialogue on FTA with Modi

Written by Reema Lokesh | Auckland | Updated: May 27 2014, 07:16am hrs
ModiTo further strengthen tourism ties through cricket, films and high value tourism
India continues to be an extremely important market for New Zealand and we hope to further strengthen ties with India under the new government, stated, John Key, prime minister of New Zealand and minister of tourism, Government of New Zealand in an exclusive with Express TravelWorld at the ongoing Trenz 2014 in Auckland, New Zealands largest international buyer seller tourism meet. The pressing issue between the two countries has been on the ongoing discussion of the India-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and New Zealand is hoping to gain headway in this area under the Narendra Modi led BJP Government. Key added that, The FTA talk has been rather on a slow track, with couple of distractions that cropped up from the former government. We are very positive about the new change in government in India and the soon to be elected PM of India seems focused on business and I am sure trade between the two countries will strengthen over time.

The PM is also keen to encourage two way traffic between the countries especially though tourism. The budget for tourism was increased considerably in 2013 and the focus on tourism especially high value tourism will continue to remain in focus. The PM has been monitoring the tourism sector rather closely both in terms of product development and, marketing and promotions. Films and cricket have a special significance toward tourism promotion. The PM is positive about the Cricket and film ties between the two countries and he plans to further encourage tourism between India and New Zealand through film and sports tourism especially cricket. Films and cricket ties as crucial to strengthen tourism, added Key.

The forthcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 is being heavily promoted in the region and major promotions are underway to increase the sports tourism connection between the regions. The India-New Zealand Film Co-production Agreement has been a worthy initiative. Further, India is also a crucial source market for student education and there exists a bilateral cooperation in higher education, research, skills development, and indigenous education between the two countries. The student population and the population of the Indian diaspora have been on a rise over the years. The PM also announced investments in setting up convention centres in Auckland and Queenstown to encourage MICE tourism. The question of improving air connectivity between the two countries was also touched upon in the discussion.

In October 2011 Prime Minister John Key launched the NZ Inc India Strategy that spells broad economic goals that a future FTA will help achieve. Grow merchandise exports to at least NZ$2 billion per year by 2015, grow services trade with India by an average of 20 per cent a year, improve the bilateral investment framework and facilitate growth in the investment relationship, and attract and retain skilled migrants from India who are able to make an effective contribution to New Zealands economic base, engage more deeply with Indian on regional and global issues that will impact on New Zealands future prosperity and security, raise the profile of New Zealands value proposition in India through a series of conscious steps, from enhanced cricket diplomacy to increased political contact with India are part of the strategy.

Six innovative tourism projects get funding at Trenz 2014 Prime minister and tourism minister John Key has announced the governments tourism growth partnership is investing in six projects to grow the tourism sector in New Zealand. The tourism growth partnership is investing NZ$3.84 million in the projects in this first round of funding. This is in addition to NZ$23 million from the applicants, giving a total NZ$26.8 million investment in the tourism industry. Investing in a wide range of innovative tourism projects will help the New Zealand tourism industry as a whole and create jobs in New Zealand, said Key. Under the tourism growth partnership, the government has made NZ$32 million available over four years to support innovative projects that will create new opportunities and overcome barriers to growth in the tourism sector. The tourism growth partnership is a co-investment programme. For each project approved for investment, the government will provide up to 50 per cent of the required funding. Tourism is one of New Zealands largest export earners and plays a crucial role to grow our economy, says Key. The tourism growth partnership is part of a NZ$158 million investment government has made in tourism. A second round of funding is now open for applications and will close at the end of the month.