FTA to help India, New Zealand reach USD 3 bn trade: Sharma

"A free trade agreement will lead to greater economic cooperation," he said, adding it would increase trade and investment opportunities for both sides.

Sharma, who is leading a FICCI business delegation to New Zealand, said through steps like the FTA, the two countries hope to treble their mutual trade from the present level of USD 1 billion (rpt) 1 billion.

He said the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, or CECA (the official name for the FTA), is expected to be finalised by early next year.

Both sides have already completed four rounds of negotiations, which started in 2010.
An official of the India-New Zealand Business Council said that bilateral trade would get boost with the FTA, as happened between New Zealand and China after they opened trade through a similar pact. At present, Sino-New Zealand trade amounts to USD 10 billion.

Addressing a meeting of the Indian-New Zealand Joint Business Council meeting, Sharma said the two countries can cooperate in several segments including agriculture, pharmaceuticals, dairy products, research and development, tourism and films.

India, which has an investment potential of USD 200 billion in in the agro-processing and cold chain sectors, can utilise the expertise of New Zealand in the area, he said. "We want New Zealand participation in a greater manner in this sector... Our post harvest losses are very high," he said.

New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser said that his country places importance on strengthening relations with India.

Sharma is also scheduled to meet New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.

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