Advocacy and engagement are an integral part of what we do at Pacific Trade Invest New Zealand. This proved positive when the Honourable Tatafu Moeaki, Minister for Trade, Industry and Commerce , Government of Tonga met with PTI Trade Commissioners from Australia and China and New Zealand on Wednesday 24 February.
Taking time to talanoa
The meeting was a useful opportunity to hear directly from Honourable Minister Moeaki and his team. They spoke of how the global COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the Tongan economy and shared insights into the current economic climate of the Kingdom.
The group identified promising leads in the agriculture export space. The Minister reassured the network Tonga would be working hard to promote this sector.
The Minister’s concerns were ones we are familiar with; thanks to the data we have been collecting through the Pacific Business Monitor.
He shared interesting insights on the current economic climate of the country including commentary on remittances. These were forecast to be affected up to 30% in December 2020 compared to the previous year.
The loss of income in the tourism and ancillary sectors has hit Tonga hard. Estimations suggest this to be upwards of NZ$70m. In 2019, 49% of visitor arrivals came from New Zealand. Closed borders means the impact to the country’s GDP is on ongoing.
Against this backdrop the Minister Moeaki said it makes good economic sense to back the agriculture sector. Now more than ever it is important to support the people whose livelihoods depend on the sector. These include SMEs, small holder farmers, cooperatives, and others to heighten exports from Tonga.
The Government of Tonga’s Social and Economic Stimulus Package comes as a relief to many. There are plans to future proof key sectors including agriculture and fisheries.
Collaboration and partnerships between governments, the private sector and the PTI Network is important for the long term survival and success of many businesses.
Working for Tonga
In the current year, PTI New Zealand is working with a small number of Tongan businesses to improve their export capability under our bespoke Business Mentorship Programme; supporting a Tongan company at the Fine Food Show in June this year; and facilitating exports from Tonga to New Zealand.
The PTI Network remains committed to facilitating business connections between export ready Blue Pacific businesses and the Aotearoa New Zealand, Australian and Chinese markets.