India's instant bank payment system hogged the limelight in the nation's first round-table discussion with New Zealand as part of their free-trade negotiations in New Delhi last week.
Trade representatives also discussed air connectivity, carbon credits, bilateral work visas and banking in preliminary talks in their bid to agree on a free-trade agreement that would benefit both nations.
New Zealand High Commissioner to India David Pine touched on collective efforts for mutual benefits, proportionality, facilitating trade and association with private sectors in his remarks during the meeting.
"Some of the areas explored by [Pine] included promotion of the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) system, carbon credit cooperation, economic cooperation through sectoral arrangements, working together on the comprehensive proposal made by Zespri and prioritisation of requests on non-tariff measures," the Indian government said in a statement, adding that it also wanted the air connectivity links between the two nations to be increased.
Rajesh Agarwal, secretary of India's Commerce Department, called for existing institutional mechanisms for improving bilateral trade to be strengthened and wanted a working group at joint-secretarial level to work on specific issues.
"Once the ideas and the corresponding cooperative activities are concrete, the same can be scaled up and finalised during the joint trade committee meeting," Agarwal said.
While acknowledging the potential benefits of a trade partnership between India and New Zealand, both parties agreed there was a need to work beyond any free-trade agreement and explore areas where the countries could complement each other.
"The excellent discussion focused on identifying key sectors for cooperation, and how industry and government can work together to derive greater mutual benefit in our countries' economic partnership," the New Zealand High Commission
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade also confirmed India's UPI system was a major talking point in discussions.
"The meeting provided an opportunity for private sector engagement with officials from both countries," the ministry said.
The discussions in New Delhi focused on progressing the objectives of the Joint Trade Committee, created under the 1986 Bilateral Trade Agreement between the two countries.
"We appreciate the tentative identification of areas of cooperation, including UPI, carbon credit, kiwifruit, trans-shipment hub, work visas and banking," Agarwal said.
Trade representatives from New Zealand described the talks as a "significant moment in the economic relationship between the two countries", emphasising a need to "speed up the activities and continue the dialogue in a more structured way".
Participants from India representing the IT, logistics, banking, food processing, pharmaceuticals, automobile, construction and the power sectors called for further discussions to take place.