When New Zealand Prime Minister John Key visits India next week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to raise the issue of India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). New Zealand, which is a member of the 48-member NSG and has a traditional strong position on nuclear non-proliferation, has been one of those countries which had expressed reservations on India’s application. New Zealand’s argument is based on the fact that India, being a non-NPT signatory, cannot be allowed to become a member of the NSG unless a decision is taken on the criterion for new members.
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Although President Pranab Mukherjee had visited New Zealand earlier this year, but the country has stuck to its stand.
MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Thursday, “Our credentials are very much known…we hope the NSG will see the logic in letting us be a part of the grouping. I assume that this is an important issue and I would only imagine that the issue will be discussed (during the bilateral meeting).”
Officials said Delhi will raise the issue about its non-proliferation credentials, as well as its need to access high technology. This will be one of the key areas of conversation when Key visits India from October 24 to 27.
He will start his trip from Mumbai, then come to Delhi, and on his return, will stop by in Kochi. Key will spend four days here, along with 35 business representatives, trying to boost economic, political and security connections with India.
Early this week, Key said the NSG issue will almost certainly be raised in official talks, with the argument made that India needs a sustainable alternative to coal power and is a stable democracy.
“Our perspective is to acknowledge all of those things, but just to simply say that if you admit any country to the
nuclear suppliers group, then you have to be able to back that up and why you allowed it,” said Key.
“And there are other countries — not just India – that want to join,” he added, in his remarks before the India trip.
New Delhi would like to make a distinction between it’s case and that of other applicant, Pakistan. There is a
possibility of a presentation by Indian interlocutors who are experts on disarmament issues.
Besides the NSG issue, the two countries will also be discussing the prospect of finalising a free-trade deal, which has been under negotiations for the last six years. “But it isn’t yet over the line — India is protective of
its market in agricultural products and loathe to drop tariffs,” a New Zealand government official said.
The two sides will also discuss ways and means to boost the two-way trade. In 2011, the two countries had set a target of two-way trade to be worth $2 billion, but that target was missed last year.
However, a report by former New Zealand High Commissioner Graeme Waters, for the Asia New Zealand Foundation and released over the weekend, suggests that the two countries’ trade future lies not in goods but services, such as IT, fashion design, film making and aviation.
India is also New Zealand’s second-largest source of international students. The trade in services has actually
more than doubled to $1.23 billion since 2011. Key will be accompanied by MPs Mark Mitchell and Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi during his visit.