1 May 2016

PM pushes for free trade deal with India

5:44 pm on 1 May 2016

Prime Minister John Key used a meeting with India's president today to push for a free trade agreement with India, he says.

India's President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister John Key

India's President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister John Key Photo: POOL / NZME

Pranab Mukherjee, who is the first Indian president to come to New Zealand, flew into Auckland yesterday for a three-day official visit.

He held a bi-lateral meeting with Mr Key this afternoon.

Following the meeting, Mr Key said the lack of a free trade agreement was holding back the relationship between the two countries.

"If you think about the demographics in India, they're very similar to those in China - so while we're doing well with India, in reality we could be doing a lot better," he said.

China was New Zealand's number one market for export goods, while India was number 10, Mr Key said.

"So you can see what opportunity there is."

Mr Key also used the meeting to lobby for Helen Clark's bid to become Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Mr Mukherjee seemed receptive to Miss Clark's candidacy, Mr Key said.

"He had high personal regard for Helen Clark... He also made the point that he could see the strong merits of a woman being in the top job at the United Nations, so I got the impression that they would look very closely at her candidature."

Mr Mukherjee is due to leave New Zealand tomorrow afternoon.

Meanwhile New Zealand has signed a new air services agreement with India, enabling New Zealand airlines to code-share to seven Indian cities - Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi.

In the year to March 52,000 New Zealanders travelled to India, while nearly 60,000 Indians visited here.

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