Bridging the Pacific Islands with Latin America

Though South America girdles the Pacific Ocean in much the same way as Asia, Australia and New Zealand do, trade and business ties between the Pacific Islands and South America are relatively few and far between.

Mercosur Vice President Alfredo Amigorena (right) with PTI NZ Trade & Investment Commissioner Michael Greenslade at the Pacific Hub at the Chocolate and Coffee Show in Auckland.

Working to bridge this gap is the Montevideo based Mercosur Asean Chamber of Commerce, which has been established to create trade and investment ties between Latin American countries and South East Asian Countries. It is now working to add Pacific Island countries into its scope.

The Mercosur grouping includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay (Venezuela is a full member but has been suspended since December last year). Its associate members are Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Suriname, while New Zealand and Mexico are observer counties.

Mercosur’s Vice President Alfredo R Amigorena was recently in New Zealand and was impressed by Pacific Island products on display at last month’s Chocolate and Coffee Show in Auckland, where Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) New Zealand hosted six Pacific Island companies at its specially designed Pacific Hub stand.

Mr Amirogena sought a meeting with the PTI team and visited the PTI NZ offices to hold discussions on Mercosur and PTI NZ working together and exploring the possibility of introducing Pacific Island products into Latin American markets.

During discussions, Mr Amirogena proposed a letter of understanding be signed between the two organisations and subsequently a document was jointly drafted and signed by PTI NZ Trade & Investment Commissioner Michael Greenslade and Mr Amirogena.

“Latin America is an exciting new market for Pacific Island Countries. We believe we can start some initial trade through Auckland as there are direct and frequent air links between New Zealand and Latin America,” Mr Greenslade said after signing the letter of understanding.

Mr Amirogena said he was keen on starting off with Pacific Island products like Papua New Guinea chocolates and Fijian cosmetics “…and of course island tourism destinations.”

“Our vision of the future is high cooperation among southern countries.  We are keen to start getting in close touch with non-traditional markets that are the new challenge for trade and exports and, consequently, offer great opportunities.” Mr Amirogena told Pacific Periscope.

“When we found Pacific Trade Invest with a similar philosophy and involved just in the markets we were looking for, we said Eureka and started thinking about a universe of possibilities.

“Why don’t we think about cosmetics, food, arts and crafts, mineral water and delicious chocolate to be available in Buenos Aires, São Paulo and Asunción?

The answer is nobody gave the Latin American such opportunity because there is no commerce among those places,” Mr Amirogena said.

“We do hope the letter of understanding will lead to strong trade links in the near future,” Mr Greenslade said.

For more information email PTI NZ Trade Development Manager Ian Furlong at ian.f@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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