Pacific envoys woo Chinese investment, tourists


<strong>Pacific Islands Trade &amp; Invest (PT&amp;I)</strong> Beijing recently organised the inaugural Pacific Islands (Shenzhen) Investment and Trade Promotion Forum in the Guangdong Province of China.


<a href=""><img class="alignleft size-full wp-image-7089" src="" alt="rsz_China" width="138" height="104" /></a>Working in collaboration with the China Council of Promotion and International Trade Shenzhen and the Shenzhen Foreign Affairs Office, PT&amp;I Beijing brought together 150 businesses from Shenzhen who expressed an interest in doing business with the Pacific Islands.

Ambassadors from Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu as members of the Pacific Island Ambassadors Group in Beijing, China, attended the forum to lend their support and to take the opportunity to promote trade and investment opportunities in their respective countries. Pacific Island Ambassadors spoke at the forum, laying out the red carpet for both tourists and investors to visit their respective countries in greater numbers.

The Forum was followed by business to business meetings, providing an opportunity to Shenzhen businesses to meet directly with the Ambassadors to discuss their specific areas of interest. PT&amp;I also organised a display of pacific products.

Deputy Trade Commissioner, Louisa Sifakula told Pacific Persicope, “There was strong interest from Shenzhen businesses in food and beverage. Particularly health related products such as coconut oil and noni juice which were specifically mentioned by interested buyers. Assisting with import substitution through hydroponics and helping with environmental impact assessments for infrastructure investments were also other areas of interest raised.”

At the forum, Ambassador for Samoa to China Tapusalaia Terry Toomata said Shenzhen is a great location for this inaugural event as Apia has been in the process of establishing a sister city relationship with Shenzhen which should be finalized soon.

The Pacific Island Ambassadors Group also met with Shenzhen Mayor Xu Qin to discuss specific issues of interest. “Shenzhen is making every effort to develop into an international city so we are trying to explore more overseas tourist destinations for Shenzhen residents as well as to further enhance business collaboration with other cities and countries around the world,” Mayor Xu said.

Shenzhen would thoroughly implement the requirements put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in terms of enhancing cooperation with South Pacific Islands via encouraging local corporations, Shenzhen Airlines and private entrepreneurs to invest in these countries, Mayor Xu added.

Ambassador Toomata, hopes China will begin direct flights to island countries to develop the tourism industry under the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative.

“We received about 200,000 tourists last year and 5,000 of them were Chinese. We expect more Chinese to visit our country,” Mr Toomata, who has been living in China for six years, said. His country would also welcome cooperation in the fields of agriculture, fishing and solar energy, he added.

Federated States of Micronesia’s (FSM) Ambassador Susaia said, “I hope that we are able to convince companies from this city to visit our country and see the potential in our sectors of tourism, agriculture, fisheries, renewable energy and telecommunications.”

Working closely with the Civil Aviation Administration of China, Ambassador Susaia said his country hopes to sign an agreement with the administration to open direct flights to FSM from China. “From Shenzhen to my nation, it will take only three and a half hours if you fly directly,” he said.

Papua New Guinea’s Ambassador Mero said that his country’s developing tourism industry welcomes Chinese visitors with open arms. “In addition to the tourism industry, we are also seeking cooperation in the fields of oil, gas, mining, fishery and agriculture. Shenzhen is the Silicon Valley of China, and I am looking forward to partnership opportunities with local companies,” he said.

China is a significant provider of both investments and development aid to PNG. In 2013, trade between the two countries reached US$1.35 billion, up by 5.5 percent from 2012.

Vanuatu’s Ambassador Molisa commented that “Tourism sector is the biggest industry in the country at this time and we would like to see more tourism investors from Shenzhen.” China and Vanuatu established diplomatic relations in 1982.

A follow up trade and investment exhibition to showcase Pacific products and investment opportunities is being considered in collaboration with CCPIT Shenzhen for the month of June.