The New Zealand government Thursday launched a wide-ranging diplomatic and trade strategy to expand links with India, in the first of a series of strategies targeting different countries and regions.
In Auckland, Prime Minister John Key launched the NZ Inc India Strategy, which specifies six goals and the negotiation of a free trade agreement, more air links and the use of "cricket diplomacy" to expand cultural and trade ties.
"Our relationship with India has always been friendly and warm and we have seen good growth over the past few years. Two-way trade is worth more than 1.2 billion NZ dollars (947.28 million U. S. dollars) a year and India has become our third-largest source of international students and our 10th largest source of visitors, " said Key.
The strength of the relationship was underpinned by the Indian community in New Zealand, which numbered more than 100,000.
"There are good reasons for a strategy. India has emerged as a major Asian power and economic hub and while it is currently the world's 10th largest economy, its growth rate is second only to China's among the world's major economies.
"India also has a growing middle class and a youthful and increasingly well educated population. We need to make the most of the opportunities India provides.
"I witnessed those opportunities when I visited India in June. The India Strategy is the framework we need to realise that potential," said Key.
The Strategy would bring government agencies together to work collectively and would outline why New Zealand businesses should be looking at India and give them information they needed to do business there.
The Strategy included six goals that specified action:
-- Grow merchandise exports to at least 2 billion U.S. dollars by 2015;-- Grow services trade by 20 percent per year;
-- Improve the bilateral investment framework and facilitate growth in the investment relationship;
-- Attract and retain skilled migrants from India;
-- Engage more deeply with India on regional and global issues
-- Raise the profile of New Zealand's value proposition in India.
It also included capitalizing on India's love of the game of cricket by coordinating with the sport's New Zealand body, New Zealand Cricket, and employing well-known New Zealand cricketers for promotional events and cultivating trade contacts.
"This is the first of what will be many NZ Inc country and regional strategies that will set ambitious medium term goals and provide a clear direction for the whole of government effort over a five year period," said Key.
Other strategies were being developed for China, the United States, Australia, South East Asia, Middle East and the European Union.