Global Insight: Advantages for NZ in India trade deal

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New Zealand wants a free trade deal with India in case its relationship with China sours.

International relations specialist Professor Robert Patman, speaking on Global Insight, said New Zealand's disappointment this week at India not signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is political as well as economic.

A trade agreement with a liberal democracy such as India has advantages over a deal with an authoritarian state like China, Prof Patman says.

"I think New Zealand trade negotiators . . . would probably argue that if you can get the sort of free trade agreement that we signed with China . . . [it] may be more enduring than with China.

"We've already seen the ebbs and flows of that relationship because of the Huawei controversy, where there was a suspicion that the company was not independent of an authoritarian government in Beijing.''

Prof Patman said New Zealand had hoped the RCEP would help the country get its foot in India's door. New Zealand negotiators were now likely to double-down on their almost-decade-long attempts to get a bilateral trade agreement with India.

"Economically the opportunities are terrific. If India was predisposed to drop some of the tariffs it has against some of our dairy exports, it could be an absolute boon for the New Zealand economy.''

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