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New Zealand to let Indian professionals in if it gets access to India’s dairy market

Posted on May 12, 2011
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WELLINGTON: New Zealand is ready to open its doors wider for Indian professionals and service providers as part of the bilateral free trade agreement being negotiated, but the stress is going to be on level of skills, the country’s trade minister Tim Groser has said.

“We will definitely offer more access to Indian professionals, which is in fact going to go in our favour, but we have to take care of our sensitivities. We can’t allow unqualified people knocking our front doors and doing poor jobs,” Groser told ET.

Professionals who could benefit include teachers, healthcare providers, technicians, IT experts, architects and hospitality providers.

The two countries have started discussing reciprocal recognition of some professional degrees outside the FTA, said commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma. “We are discussing recognition of our degrees which could also happen outside the FTA, but there is definitely going to be a separate chapter on services in the FTA that would ensure greater access to both service providers and professionals,” Sharma said.

India and New Zealand are also discussing a ‘working holiday scheme’ for young Indians, preferably graduates, that will allow Indians to stay in New Zealand for a short period, say six months, and work to pay for their holiday. “It already has offered the scheme to 34 countries and it could also work for us,” Sharma said.

New Zealand wants access to India’s dairy market in turn in the FTA. “We are absolutely aware of the sensitivities that you have in your agriculture sector. But there is scope to work around it,” Groser said. New Zealand could export high-end dairy products and also share technology, he said.

Sharma is leading a 30-member Ficci delegation to New Zealand and Australia to discuss trade relations and potential FTAs with both countries. India and New Zealand have concluded four rounds of negotiations and hope to conclude the FTA, which will include both goods and services, next year.

The Indian minsiter met New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Tuesday to discuss key bilateral issues including the FTA. The New Zealand PM will visit India in June with a business delegation.

“India is our number one priority in our foreign policy,” Groser said. New Zealand has an FTA with China which has increased bilateral trade to $10 billion. India-New Zealand trade is at just $1 billion. “We now want to focus our attention on India,” he said.

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