You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Call for flights between India and NZ

NZN 3/05/2017 Pattrick Smellie

Fast-growing tourism and international student arrivals from India make it time to consider direct flights between New Zealand and major Indian cities, says the visiting head of a top Indian policy think-tank, Amitabh Kant.

In New Zealand for meetings with government ministers, foreign affairs officials and business contacts, the chief executive of the National Institution for Transforming India also claims India is more than ready for a free-trade agreement with New Zealand.

And, he says, India is just waiting for Wellington to present an offer on liberalising the services sector to allow Indian companies to compete here.

"Indians are one of the biggest outbound markets," Mr Kant told BusinessDesk.

"By 2020, we will have 50 million Indians travelling globally. They are big spenders. They like to splurge abroad."

But the absence of direct flights to New Zealand was a barrier to more Indian tourists discovering the country.

"I feel there's a need for direct connectivity," he said.

The Auckland-based India Trade Alliance backed his call, suggesting Air India should divert one of its 10 direct flights per week to Sydney and Melbourne to Auckland, New Zealand's largest city.

Mr Kant also told BusinessDesk that fears about India's desire to continue highly protectionist policies for its agricultural and manufacturing sectors were overblown, in part because of the major economic reforms being instituted under the current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who was elected in 2014.

"We have opened up our economy in a very big way," he said, describing India as "the last giant economy to start its long spurt of growth".

The New Zealand government has downgraded its efforts to achieve an FTA with India because of its unwillingness to negotiate a 'high quality' deal of the kind that would include significant opportunities for New Zealand agricultural, including dairy exports.

However, Mr Kant - a close confidant of the Modi administration but not a government official - said the FTA was not stalled.

"We are awaiting New Zealand's offer on the services sector."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon