The launch of the new Private Sector Investment research will provide valuable data for investment into the Pacific.
The final report on Private Sector Investment in the Pacific was presented by Professor Simon Milne AUT Associate Head of School, Research and Development and Director, New Zealand Tourism Research Institute on behalf of his team Carolyn Deuchar, Tracy Berno, Semisi Taumoepeau, Michael Pusinelli and Jaimee Raymond. The launch was held at Fale Pasifika Auckland University this week.
The research was funded by the New Zealand Institute of Pacific Research. Finding good data to attract investment into the Pacific had been difficult. There was a general lack of understanding about investing in the Pacific, Professor Milne told the audience. The report aimed to inform investors and revolved around three research questions. It examined the drivers of and barriers to private sector investment (both foreign” and local). The benefits and costs of a range of private sector investment from large foreign investment through to small scale local and expatriate investment. The report examined the costs and risks of Foreign investment to the receiving country and how this can be managed or moderated and the how the impact of investment both foreign and local be enhanced.
The four focus areas were in tourism, agriculture, renewable energy and telecommunications.
In brief, the 150-page report used a two-pronged approach with investor case studies. The 24 case studies came from investors from Fiji, Tonga, Cook Islands and Niue. The research also surveyed 33 experts who worked in-country facilitating or managing investment opportunities.
Recommendations from investors and experts included practical advice from investors to other investors – to settle in and do your homework before investing and not to be “too gung ho”. Being clear on land issues and getting the right advice from local businesses and communities. Starting small, learning more about local conditions and the people. Creating local networks and relationships. Focusing on authenticity, and building in a ‘sense of place’ into the products and experiences. For the ‘experts’ the report presented seven points towards an enabling environment for investment. From strong due diligence in vetting Foreign direct investment to creating government policies targeting key development goals including the local investor and simplifying the investment process.
Another area focused on encouraging returning Pasifika investment and investment by Pacific Women. Giving back was important for returning Pasifika investors. But it was vital to understand the group sat in-between local and foreign investors in a mix of two worlds, the report said. They faced unique challenges such as the Tall Poppy syndrome with local jealousies and suspicions making investment difficult. The research also found Pasifika Women faced a raft of challenges from being less likely to own land, limited access to financial and justice systems and are faced with family, marriage and inheritance laws and practices making investment difficult. The report ends with an observation from a research participant who said the Pacific is a community based economy with almost all activities in the informal sector. If companies understood that, worked with that, created stories around that they would do well and get high prices for their products.
Copies of the Private Sector Investment in the Pacific Report can be obtained from the New Zealand Institute of Pacific Research and is available online.