India, New Zealand bilateral talks include FTA

New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) India and New Zealand Tuesday held discussions on strengthening bilateral ties, including inking a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Addressing a joint press conference here, the foreign ministers of the two countries listed the FTA as one of the priorities for relations between the two countries.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said: “The Free Trade Agreement is an immediate goal for us because it has been our experience that the other elements of the partnership always succeed in pursuing a Free Trade Agreement and we believe that the potential of the relationship between New Zealand and India will be unlocked through an FTA.”

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said: “We have had a very good conversation and dialogue on a host of issues of interest to us of bilateral, regional and multilateral nature.”

“We have enormous convergence, agreement on issues of great importance, desire that our people-to-people contacts continue to grow, that we establish much more important institutions and arrangements for enhancing our trade relations, looking at much greater interface as far as the field of education is concerned, and to cooperate and collaborate in key areas in multilateral events,” he said.

Khurshid said McCully would soon meet Commerce Minister Anand Sharma on the FTA.

Khurshid said: “We need to push forward the FTA which was targeted for eight to ten months at the time of the last meeting between the trade ministers. But it has already been over a year and a quarter and I think it is time that we push forward quickly.”

Khurshid praised New Zealand for being one of the few countries to immediately respond after the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. “We will continue to work closely on the fight against international terrorism,” he said.

“New Zealand has also become, as you know, a favourite destination for location shooting for Bollywood film producers and I am sure that this will bring us closer together and I hope that some stories that bring together our two countries as part of the movies itself will soon be written,” he said.

McCully said though the two countries are very different in terms of size and in terms of geography, there are so many areas in which we cooperate internationally”.

“We are at this stage looking forward to an opportunity through the Free Trade Agreement, through sport, through education and tourism, to bring the ties between our two countries even closer together,” he said.

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