NZ in India strategy hard toil enough without transport failure

EDITORIAL

The breakdown in Townsville of an RNZAF Boeing carrying a New Zealand delegation to India, including the Prime Minister, is an embarrassment for the Government and a setback for an important trade mission.

Some media have seen the funny side of New Zealand’s version of Air Force One stranded on a runway in steamy Townsville after two attempts to take off failed. The air force’s other Boeing had to be summoned for help.

Aviation experts have pointed the finger at the air force, saying these planes are comparatively new and will fly for many more years so long as they are properly maintained.

The potential rewards from this mission, which includes about 80 businesspeople, are high.

New Zealand’s trade with India has grown 41 percent since 2009 and it is now our No.10 export market. More than that, the potential for future growth is unlimited. India’s 1.3 billion population, set to overtake China as the world’s most populous nation in about six years, has been identified as a lucrative market for processed foods which are popular with urban youth. There is also great tourism potential — 62,000 Indians visited here in the year to March 2016.

John Key launched his New Zealand in India strategy in 2011 and the country has battled since then for a free trade agreement, finding the Indian government difficult to deal with.

Arriving a day late and missing a meeting with businesspeople from the metropolis of Mumbai won’t have helped our image as Key prepares for meetings with the Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee, who was here in May.

While trade will be the focus, one issue that should also be addressed is the plight and treatment of Indians here on student visas — whose numbers have surged from 10,000 to nearly 30,000 last year. Many of these students are being mistreated here, often by fellow Indians, and there is fraud in applications which New Zealand must address.

But India remains a market with huge potential that New Zealand must keep well in its sights.

The breakdown in Townsville of an RNZAF Boeing carrying a New Zealand delegation to India, including the Prime Minister, is an embarrassment for the Government and a setback for an important trade mission.

Some media have seen the funny side of New Zealand’s version of Air Force One stranded on a runway in steamy Townsville after two attempts to take off failed. The air force’s other Boeing had to be summoned for help.

Aviation experts have pointed the finger at the air force, saying these planes are comparatively new and will fly for many more years so long as they are properly maintained.

The potential rewards from this mission, which includes about 80 businesspeople, are high.

New Zealand’s trade with India has grown 41 percent since 2009 and it is now our No.10 export market. More than that, the potential for future growth is unlimited. India’s 1.3 billion population, set to overtake China as the world’s most populous nation in about six years, has been identified as a lucrative market for processed foods which are popular with urban youth. There is also great tourism potential — 62,000 Indians visited here in the year to March 2016.

John Key launched his New Zealand in India strategy in 2011 and the country has battled since then for a free trade agreement, finding the Indian government difficult to deal with.

Arriving a day late and missing a meeting with businesspeople from the metropolis of Mumbai won’t have helped our image as Key prepares for meetings with the Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee, who was here in May.

While trade will be the focus, one issue that should also be addressed is the plight and treatment of Indians here on student visas — whose numbers have surged from 10,000 to nearly 30,000 last year. Many of these students are being mistreated here, often by fellow Indians, and there is fraud in applications which New Zealand must address.

But India remains a market with huge potential that New Zealand must keep well in its sights.

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