There is need for greater economic engagement between India and New Zealand to effectively respond to growing uncertainties of global economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday as the two countries agreed to strengthen security & intelligence cooperation against terror and radicalisation including in cyber security.
In his remarks after holding bilateral talks with visiting New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Modi said the two countries have agreed to work towards early completion of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
"Prime Minister Key and I have had detailed and productive discussions on all aspects of our bilateral engagement and multilateral cooperation," Modi said.
"We both recognised need for greater economic engagement in order to effectively respond to the growing uncertainties in the global economy... We have agreed to continue to work closely towards an early conclusion of a balanced and mutually beneficial CECA," he added.
Modi also said that food processing, dairy, agriculture and the related areas, including their supply chain, have a lot of scope for cooperation.
Key is on a three-day state visit to India.
The two leaders “reaffirmed their shared desire to further strengthen the growing bilateral relationship between India and New Zealand, which is founded on shared democratic values and Commonwealth heritage, as well as vibrant people-to-people relations and sporting links.”
The two Prime Ministers noted the strong diaspora connections between India and New Zealand, with Indians now making up around four percent of New Zealand’s population.
The two Prime Ministers agreed to further strengthen the political, defence and security relationship enjoyed by India and New Zealand.
India’s membership to Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) also figured in the talks between the two as New Zealand acknowledged the importance of New Delhi’s entry into the group.
“Prime Minister Key stated that New Zealand would continue to contribute constructively to the process currently underway in the NSG to consider India’s membership. New Zealand is committed to working with NSG members to reach a decision as soon as possible,” a joint statement issued by the two countries said.
Cricket became an analogy to highlight the warm ties between India and New Zealand as Modi and Key drew references from the game to stress on the progress made in their bilateral equation.
The references came on a day when India were taking on New Zealand in the fourth match of a five-game ODI series.
Modi was the first to speak in the joint press briefing that followed the exchange of agreements between the two nations.
Referring to the ongoing ODI series, Modi said some cricketing terms were apt description of the progress made in the two countries' bilateral ties.
"In a little while from now, our cricket teams will take the field in Ranchi for the fourth one-day international. In many ways, some of the cricketing terminology reflects progress in our bilateral linkages. In our ties, we have moved from fielding at long off to taking a fresh guard at the batting pitch. Defensive play has given way to aggressive batting," Modi said.
Key was not to be left behind and quipped that he is thankful to Modi for not raising his country's poor performance in the series so far. New Zealand were whitewashed 0-3 in the Test series and are trailing in the ongoing five-match ODI series as well.
"You have spoken about the cricket taking place in India but gracious enough not to be talking about the fact that India has been triumphing over New Zealand," Key said in lighter vein.
"We are of course trying to build as warm and as close a relationship with India as we can and we have gone to the extraordinary lengths of ensuring that former Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum is now playing for Gujarat. So we are truly committed to the relationship between New Zealand and India," Key said referring to McCullum's IPL association with Gujarat Lions, the franchise based in Modi's home state Gujarat.