According to a statement from the Horticulture Export Authority, India could become a major export market for fruit and vegetable growers if progress could be achieved on reducing tariffs on New Zealand goods. Exports of apples and avocados to India have roughly doubled since 2016, while kiwifruit sales there have also grown significantly in that time.
And that is despite India imposing tariffs of 30 to 50 percent on most commodities. It charged about $27.4 million on New Zealand produce in the year through June, up from $16.4 million in 2016.
“This represents 44 percent of the value of all exports to India, which is by far the highest rate of any export destination in 2018,” the authority said in its biannual report on export trade barriers.
“These high tariff rates highlight the value to horticulture of progressing the New Zealand-India Free Trade Agreement -in tandem with the RCEP agreement- and the potential for India to become a top export destination for horticulture if tariffs can be reduced.”
India, with about 1.3 billion people is the world’s second-most populous country and the seventh-largest economy. New Zealand has been seeking a free-trade agreement for more than a decade. A joint study was completed in 2009 but 10 rounds of formal talks ended in Delhi in 2015 without result.
Unfortunately, talks on the 16-country Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership deal –which includes India– also appear stalled. India’s reluctance to lower tariffs on goods in 2019, an election year, is a factor.
New Zealand exported about $3.6 billion of fruit and vegetables in the year through June, 7.6 percent more than two years earlier. That was about 60 percent of total production. The European Union and China -excluding Hong Kong- were the two biggest markets at $813 million and $581 million respectively.