Huge scope seen for business with India
Waikato will host an India-New Zealand Business Forum, writes Andrea Fox.
Move over China - India should by now be on the radar of Waikato export businesses, says Waikato University.
To wake up the region to the enormous untapped potential for business deals with Indian companies and organisations in the tourism, dairy, IT, commerce and agribusiness sectors, the university's school of management is to hold Waikato's first India-New Zealand Business Forum in November.
Featuring business and trade leaders from India and invited Waikato and New Zealand business people, the forum is the brainchild of Dr Asad Mohsin, chairman and associate director international at the school's tourism and hospitality management department.
An India-born academic who has spent a good chunk of his career working at the tourism coalface in the hospitality industry, Mohsin says there is "huge scope" for companies and organisations such as the Waikato Chamber of Commerce to connect with businesses in India - but first the relationship has to be created.
Then it has to be sustained, he says.
"The culture in India is such that if you send an email (to a business) you may or may not get a response. If you make a phone call, you may get a response. But if you are there, they will drop everything and work with you."
Indian businesses in sectors the Waikato is strong in want to "get connected" to improve their products, skills and training, he says.
"They are facing tough competition from China. They need reputable people (connections)."
New Zealand Inc is always hearing about the opportunities in India, says Mohsin, but few Waikato companies appear to know how to go about accessing them.
"This forum will be a very, very introductory phase. It will outline what opportunities exist and invited guests will be hearing from someone who is actually from there, which should carry a lot more conviction."
Unsurprisingly, tourism is top of Mohsin's list of opportunities Waikato companies should be targeting.
Consider this, he says: The number of Indians likely to travel out of India is expected to surpass China's annual outflow of 130 million-140 million by 2025, and domestic tourism in India has grown by more than 300 per cent in the past five years.
India's middle class is swelling and the average age is 27. Guess who is going to be travelling a lot in future, he says.
Another thing to think about: many multinational companies in India which used to give staff cash bonuses, now provide fully paid annual holidays. As a result thousands of middle-management Indians are now venturing to Asian tourist spots like Singapore, Malaysia and Bangkok.
"These are all close destinations. It is obvious that soon they will not be enough. Next it will be Paris, New York and London. Australia is already tapping into this potential, so it's up to us how soon we get on to that.
"The question is how tourism in New Zealand and the Waikato can raise awareness in India."
The film industry is "huge" in India says Mohsin, challenging the region to find a way to connect with it.
The university is expecting around 180 business people, academics and government officials at the forum on November 28 at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts.
Mohsin says its immediate objective is to enhance both Indian and New Zealanders' understanding of the opportunities in each other's country, to develop business relationships and connect companies.
Medium term the intention was to profile Waikato University as a leading source of Indian business information for New Zealanders, and the Indian government, academics and business.
The university, which currently has 131 Indian international students, hopes to attract research students and research funds from India, Mohsin says.
Follow-up forums are planned in Delhi next year, in Hamilton in 2014 and in Mumbai in 2015.
Confirmed keynote speakers include: Prof Sandeep Kulshreshtha of the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management; Dr Col James, chairman of TAPMI, International Collaborations & Exchanges and Shri Ashok Kumar Pavadia, joint secretary, Indian Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.
India is New Zealand's ninth-largest export market NZ exports year to end August: $853m, down 8.1 per cent Imports from India to end August: $420m, up 12.5 per cent Total two-way trade: $1.2 billion, down from $1.3b last year Tourism: Indian tourists to NZ to end August: 29,712.
- © Fairfax NZ News