Minister for Infrastructure, Forestry and Regional Economic Development The Hon. Shane Jones has said the Pacific Islands region could benefit from the recently announced $3 billion Regional Economic Development Fund.

The Hon Shane Jones speaks a the EMA on March 2.

Addressing members of the Employers and Manufacturers Association on Friday 2nd March in Auckland, Minister Jones touched upon several aspects of his ministerial portfolios and fielded questions from the audience comprising a cross section of businesspeople.

Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) NZ Trade & Investment Commissioner Michael Greenslade asked if the Pacific region would stand to derive any kind of benefit from the Regional Economic Development Fund, Mr Jones said he would not rule out the possibility.

Mr Jones added that Minister of Foreign Affairs The Rt. Hon Winston Peters had raised the matter as well and was supportive of Pacific initiatives and had indicated such a possibility.

Mr Greenslade said there is precedent to the islands benefiting from such a regional development fund.

He recalled that during his days with Industry New Zealand, under a previous Labour government, Pacific Island countries and territories which were in free association with New Zealand like the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau were able to apply for funding under a similar regional development fund.

Niue was a case in point where the Government in partnership with Reef Shipping established a fish factory with a fleet of fishing vessels as well as developing the Noni Industry

While the Minister made no commitment, he hinted at the possibility.

However, another area that the Pacific Islands region could benefit directly is from the expansion of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) programme.

Mr Jones indicated that New Zealand’s widely acclaimed programme, where seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands work for a part of the year in New Zealand in the horticulture industry, could be expanded. This is especially so in Regional New Zealand.

The RSE programme has added substantially to remittances in the Pacific and there have been instances where returning workers have invested into businesses and helped develop the local economy.

For more information email PTI NZ Marketing, Communications & Research Manager and Pacific Periscope Editor Dev Nadkarni at dev.n@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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