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Key takes Baz to bat in India

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/10/2016

Prime Minister John Key will have batting support from former Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum when he travels to India next week on a trade delegation.

Mr Key will spend five days on the cricket-mad subcontinent, along with about 35 business representatives, trying to boost economic, political and security connections with the world's third largest economy.

McCullum is an investor in Wellington company CricHQ, which has developed an app for scoring cricket matches by mobile phones. The company is trying to increase its foothold in India.

India, with a population of 1.25 billion, and New Zealand have been negotiating a free-trade deal for the past six years, but it isn't yet over the line - India is protective of its market in agricultural products and loathe to drop tariffs.

In 2011, (when he also teamed up with another former cricket captain, Stephen Fleming) Mr Key set a target of two-way trade to be worth $2 billion, but that target was missed last year.

However, a report by former high commissioner Graeme Waters, for the Asia New Zealand Foundation and released over the weekend, suggests the two countries' trade future lies not in goods but services, such as IT, fashion design, filmmaking and aviation.

India is also New Zealand's second largest source of international students.

The trade in services has actually more than doubled to $1.23b since 2011.

While in the capital New Delhi, Mr Key will meet his counterpart Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee and says he will push for New Zealand being part of India's growth.

"India is a key partner for New Zealand," Mr Key said in a statement on Monday.

"It is a leading source of skilled migrants, international students and tourists," he said.

He also noted that since 2011 two-way trade, in both goods and services, had grown by 41 per cent to $2.4 billion.

MPs Mark Mitchell and Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi will also be part of the five-day trip, which leaves for India on Monday and also takes in Mumbai and the southwestern coastal city of Kochi.

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