New Zealand today said it expects to conclude the negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India by next year and it would work passionately to address the issue of high duties levied on its products here.
"We are at a stage of serious negotiations. We believe good relationships are not build in haste. It could take three months or 12 months. But we hope to conclude by next year," New Zealand Primary Industries Minister David Carter told PTI on the sidelines of an interactive meet organised by FICCI.
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The negotiations on FTA between the two countries started 18 months ago. Its finalisation would depend on Parliamentary timetable of New Zealand and political situation in India, Carter said.
Expressing concern over India's high tariffs imposed on imported items, the visiting New Zealand minister said, "Tariff level at the moment for butter coming into India is 30 per cent, 60 per cent on milk, 150 per cent on wine. There cannot be tariff of up to 150 per cent. So, I think we will be working passionately to address this issue in FTA."
During the interactive session, Carter said, "India must not see New Zealand as a threat. We do not come as a threat. ...Lot of people think that New Zealand has such international reputation for being producer of good food. We produce a lot of food and there is fear that we can flood the market in India. It just could never happen."
He also emphasised the role of each country in addressing the global food security. High Commissioner of New Zealand in India H E Jan Henderson said her country has brought down the tariff on imported items to zero to all trading nations in an effort towards strengthening bilateral trade relations.
"We have reduced our tariffs because we believe free trade with small nations and we want to do good trade with all nations. There should not be an artificial barriers. Bringing down the tariff level is also part of the negotiation with India," she said.
The FTA with India would double the bilateral trade by
2015 from the current USD 1.3 billion, he added. India has already implemented similar agreements with Singapore and South Korea and signed such pacts with Japan and Malaysia.
Joint Secretary in the Agriculture Ministry Sanjeev Chopra said India sees lot of scope in partnering with New Zealand in areas of post harvest management, cold chain and sharing of information on food safety standards.