Trade on agenda when Key meets India's PM

  • 21/11/2015
Prime Minister John Key
Prime Minister John Key

By Sarah Robson

Trade is likely to be the big talking point when Prime Minister John Key meets with his Indian counterpart.

Mr Key will hold formal one-on-one talks with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday in Kuala Lumpur, where they're both attending the East Asia Summit.

New Zealand has been pushing for a free trade agreement with India, but progress has been slow.

Mr Key says there's a close relationship between the two countries.

"There are a lot of Indian students in New Zealand, increasingly there more Indian tourists in New Zealand and there is quite a bit of investment coming out of India in selective areas," he told reporters.

"But ultimately for a country that has well over one billion people, we could do a lot more with India. To do that we need greater access to their markets."

Agriculture, though, is likely to be the sticking point and Mr Key wants to discuss with Mr Modi how to ensure New Zealand isn't perceived as a threat on that front.

"That will be the push back you'll be getting, it'll be from small farmers in India concerned that New Zealanders will put them out of business," he said.

"That won't be the case, but the way to resolve that issue is to reaffirm to [Mr Modi] that there would be technology sharing, we could work alongside their farmers, we can ultimately make them a lot more productive."

India and New Zealand are also part of the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership free trade deal, which is under negotiation.

That could provide another pathway for New Zealand to secure a free trade agreement with India, Mr Key said.