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India and New Zealand’s Bilateral Ties

India and New Zealand have a longstanding, friendly, and growing relationship. Their bilateral relations were established in 1952 with their high commission in Wellington, while New Zealand has a high commission in New Delhi. India- New Zealand relations were cordial but not extensive while recently it has taken a rise due to India’s impressive GDP growth. India and New Zealand have a two-way trade valued at US$1.80 billion by the end of September 2022, which makes it the 11th largest two-way trading partner. Education and tourism are the primary factors for New Zealand, which brings around 15000 students from India, making it the 2nd largest source of international students. India primarily imports forestry products, wood pulp, wool, edible fruit, and nuts from New Zealand, while they export mostly pharmaceuticals, medications, precious metals, textiles, motor vehicles, and non-knitted apparel and accessories.

Cooperation and Dialogue in Trade

India and New Zealand undertook a joint study into the implications of a free trade agreement (FTA) in 2007, which was completed in February 2009 and was later approved by both the governments of India and New Zealand. Both countries set up a joint committee in 1983 and had discussions on the Free Trade Agreement bilaterally or through the East Asian Summit, but no conclusions have been reached due to differences in agricultural subsidies. The Annual Dialogue between the Ministry of Finance and the New Zealand Treasury began in 2009 and has been taking place every year in both countries in turn. On November 10, 2017, the first India-New Zealand Cyber Dialogue was held in New Delhi. Domestic cyber policy, cyber threats and mitigation, new technologies, and mechanisms for bilateral cooperation were some of the topics that were discussed.

The benefits of the bilateral free trade agreement provide New Zealand with better access to India’s vast market for consumer products and services, along with more opportunities to export raw materials and intermediate products made by Indian manufacturers. It also provides more opportunities for New Zealand’s service sector, which includes tourism, education, consulting services, engineering, agriculture, construction, and forestry services. The Free Trade Agreement provides certainty for more investors and potential investors between the two countries.

Cooperation in Education Sector

The Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with universities in New Zealand to establish a NZ centre at the institute on February 11, 2020. The aim is to make the centre a hub of collaboration between the two academic institutions in areas such as cancer, waste management, cyber security, robotics, autonomous vehicles, and medical technology. This is also in collaboration with the India-New Zealand Council, which was launched in June 2011 during the visit of Prime Minister John Key to India. In December of 2019, the University of Auckland and IIT Kharagpur signed an agreement to offer joint PhD programmes in areas such as computational modelling, cyber security, advanced materials, precision-driven medicine, and cancer research. 

Diplomatic Visits

The leaders of both countries have shown interest in taking the relationship forward with a series of high-level bilateral visits and meetings. Indian PM Modi and PM Jacinda Ardern had a bilateral meeting in New York on the sidelines of UNGA in 2019 during which they discussed the steps to intensify political, economic, defence, security, and people-to-people relations. PM Ardern also took part in the special event commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Mahatama Gandhi in New York. 

India- New Zealand 2025: Investing in the Relationship

This new framework sets out an outline for the New Zealand government and its agencies and partners to grow their relationship with India in the next five years. The focus would be to work closely with the Indian communities, businesses, academics, and research institutions to achieve the goals set by the framework. The aim is to tap the opportunities between the two economies under common grounds such as international law, multilateralism and shared interest in the Pacific. It is formed on the basis of the following goals:

-Goal 1: A relationship built on mutual trust and advances our shared interests

-Goal 2: New Zealanders have an improved capability for engaging with India

-Goal 3: Goods and Services trade grows for shared prosperity

-Goal 4: New Zealand’s value proposition is known and understood

-Goal 5: Stronger and Broader sporting and cultural connections between the two countries

-Goal 6: Shared approaches bilaterally and in the international fora.