Pacific exporters urged to develop bilateral export protocols


Pacific Islands Trade and Invest’s (PT&amp;I) Trade Commissioner in China, Sam Savou, has urged exporters to work with their governments to catalyse the development of bilateral agricultural export protocols with China to tap into the market.<!--more--> He was speaking at a panel discussion at the inaugural Trade Pasifika 2012 in Nadi, Fiji, earlier this week, where some 50 entrepreneurs from all over the Pacific islands region have gathered.

Mr Savou said there is a demand for Pacific island produce like coconut products, fresh fruits and vegetables, cocoa, coffee and gluten free flour, amongst others, in niche markets overseas. Speaking of the Chinese market, he said, “Off season pawpaw can fetch F$60.00 a kilo in China, while off season hybrid mangoes can sell for F$40.00 per kilo.”

He however pointed out that none of the Pacific Island countries that have diplomatic relations with China had agricultural export protocols with the country and urged exporters to work towards addressing these with their respective governments.

Teremoana Mato from PT&amp;I’s Auckland office shared some success stories of agricultural exports reintegrating with the New Zealand market. He said that the pineapples from Fiji and pawpaw from Cook Islands were being brought back on to the New Zealand market.

“There are opportunities on the New Zealand market for value added Pacific products like desiccated coconut and gluten free flour. Here at Trade Pasifika 2012 we have met up with an exporter who produces gluten-free flour,” Mr Mato said.

Jeremy Grennell from PT&amp;I’s Sydney office said that there was a big potential for health related products, which are sold in specialty shops in Australia. He shared the success story of a type of cocoa from Papua New Guinea that was developed for the gourmet chocolate market. He said the distributor from Australia visited the PNG farmers and worked with them to get the product he wanted. The resulting product was branded and marketed and is now fetching premium prices.

PT&amp;I’s Trade Promotion Adviser at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s Geneva (WTO) Office, Robyn Ekstrom, said there were opportunities for coconut sugar, certified wood, certified seafood, art, soft furnishing and ornamental fish on the European market.

The important issues relating to consistent and quality supply of produce from the Pacific as well as packaging and labeling all came up for deliberations at the panel discussion. While it was stressed that consistent and quality supply was important to secure markets, exporters also heard that certifications were becoming increasingly necessary to get access to markets.