Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Zealand DIY for Indian software?

Architetto Botiglia di vino, open clipart by Anonymous
Have you heard?

NZ and India are talking about a free trade deal. The NZ Prime Minister, John Key and the Trade Minister, Tim Groser are both in India.

Here's to a fruitful outcome.

When NZ signed a free trade agreement with China - the first western country to do so, it was an outright coup. Their exports to China went up from 2 billion NZ dollars to more than twice that.

Re the quantities of import and export between NZ and India I haven't a clue. But having lived here on and off for over twenty years I consider myself an authority on what I love about things Kiwi and what I miss about things Indian, with the accent on "things" and in no particular order. It is as well to let India and NZ know my opinion in advance  for whenever they are ready to deal with each other.

When I first started travelling long before settling in NZ, I used to love going into DIY shops. At that time in India, we had no concept of DIY. I remember taking home a magnetic tape for a DIY fan - a family member and he LOVED it. The kids used to love blue-tac. I don't know how things are now but I think many Indians would take to DIY even if some wouldn't. Recently I read a blog post by an Aussie woman married to an Indian man. In that post she said she enjoyed living and working in India but really missed the Aussie bathrooms and kitchens.

To me it is obvious. A NZ Mitre10 in India! Remember it would be in competition with Chinese imports. Still, I think there would be many takers. The young woman from Australia would, I am sure, be a regular customer. As would so many Indians and other expats. But easier to import would be DIY courses - perhaps taught on TV or perhaps in real life.

Dairy products - I wonder how that will pan out.
Do I see an oppotunity to trade in dairy?
(The Indians have already captured that market here. What we call our banya shops in Mumbai are known as dairies here and the majority of dairy owners in NZ are Indians :-)) But I digress.

Going back to dairy products, to give New Zealanders a taste of the Indian mawa, khoya, shrikhand and barfi, to have NZ export its really fine varieties of cheeses and chocolates - a perfect win-win.

NZ apples - There are many varieties. They are delicious as also crunchy, juicy, sweet and free of critters.  The green ones are slightly tart and some people use them for cooking.  I love the red  "granny-smiths".

One of our NZ fruit exporters who already exports apples and pears to India complains that the tax on his fruit is as much as 50% making the fruit prohibitively expensive for ordinary folks. Obviously he's looking forward to the free trade agreement. It made me laugh to hear Radio NZ quote him as saying, if every Indian ate one NZ apple a day, his orchards would run out of apples in just three days.

As for the Alphonso - haven't eaten it for years. After migrating to NZ I haven't ever been in India during the hapus season and it is way too expensive in NZ. Am I looking forward to a hapus! And the biggest baatli keri. Or a chikoo for that matter.

Goat by ArtFavor, open clipart
NZ lamb versus Indian goat - one is tender, the other tough; one is extremely fatty and the other lean. If I cook red meats in NZ I make sure I drain off the fatty oils. They smell - my personal opinion. If we cook goat, we use the pressure cooker to ensure tenderness.

And how could I forget - the NZ kiwi fruit. Don't know how much it costs in India but with an FTA, it could be much cheaper. The kiwi is full of vitamin C and I not only love it by itself but also a slice on sweet pastry with a dollop of custard cream or as a topping for cheescake. I know, I know. That would take care of not only vitamin C but my monthly quota of fat!

But we could work it all out. Recently I have seen Indians enjoying and training for gymnastics and other sports as never before. NZ is a country of less than 4.5 million people. But they have always been outdoors people. Their activities (apart from going to the pub, watching TV or firing up the good old barbie or barbeque in summer) also include a variety of sports from a very young age. Playing in the school band, having access to a variety of musical instruments is another. So many Indians I've spoken to believe these extra curricular activities (except cricket - are for later - pehle padhai bete, studies first. Or the other option is expensive private tutions. NZ, aware of this trend and showcasing its good track record in sports would like to open up a few sports training facilities for paying Indians. Perhaps for every 50 paying Indians if they throw in one scholarship, it would be good publicity for these facilities. Or they could open up sports and gymnastics training in India itself. Are you listening Susan of 5*gym whose classes my son loved as a kid?

And we Indians could provide textiles to make uniforms for these schools. Perhaps the All-Black T-shirts too? But for that we would face tough competition from the Chinese. Their textiles have all but captured the world market.

Indians already export technology, leather jackets, accessories, handbags and footwear, bling and diamonds to NZ. Obviously, with free trade agreements, the tax on these would decrease considerably, making things more readily available and affordable to locals here.

Bollywood comes here quite often too and with an FTA, the frequency could be increased.

But before we count our kiwis - there are a few crimps to iron out. Apparently there are strong lobbies and a need to set up up a yearly business forum between India and NZ for better understanding. There's nothing like regular firsthand meetings to overcome preconceived notions or prejudices although I am not sure about lobbies!

http://www.asianz.org.nz/our-work/action-asia-business/action-asia-insights/india-fta talks of the various difficulties to overcome.

Having a foot in each of these countries I'm obviously happy both our current PMs, John Key - astute, amiable and from an accounting and business background, Manmohan Singh - knowledgeable, experienced and the person who opened up the Indian economy as Finance Minister in 1991, have taken that first step towards an FTA.



  1. Strange facts.
    Italy is the largest producer of Kiwifruit followed by NZ. There are nine other countries besides NZ cultivating Kiwi.

  2. http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/joint-statement-state-visit-prime-minister-new-zealand