Five Economic Development Agencies (EDA)s were represented at the Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) NZ Pasifika Business Market in Auckland at the Pasifika Festival in March.

Pacific Island Economic Development Agency representatives at the PTI NZ Pasifika Business Market in Auckland

PTI NZ partners with these lead national EDAs in the island nations to deliver the initial in-country Path to Market workshops that lead on to selected companies’ participation in trade delegations at events like the Pasifika Business Market. Path to Market is PTI NZ’s export capacity building programme aimed at Pacific exporters to help find markets for their products in New Zealand.

The EDA representatives that accompanied their respective country business delegations were from the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, the Cook Islands and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

This was the second time that Stuart Rom of PNG’s Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) accompanied the PNG business delegation at Pasifika. Mr Rom is Acting Senior Marketing Officer of IPA’s Investor Servicing & Promotion Division.

Comparing this year’s visit with his previous one, Mr Rom said the concept of hosting all the participating companies in a single area designated the Pasifika Business Market was a good idea — not only because of logistics but because of the interaction it facilitated between companies from different Pacific Island nations.

“One location was a big plus,” he told Pacific Periscope.

“It is rarely that so many Pacific Island businesses from different countries get an opportunity to come together, learn from one another and actually discuss business with a view to making deals as we saw at Pasifika.”

Mr Rom said the visit was a good opportunity to put the next steps in place for the planned Samoan trade delegation to PNG.

PTI NZ has partnered with IPA to host the Path to Market programme workshops in PNG. As well as upskilling companies to export to New Zealand, the Path to Market workshops helped widen the vision of the participants by implementing learnings from the course material and the visits to New Zealand, Mr Rom said.

He said participating brand Oshin Organics was a result of a rebranding exercise that came from the Path to Market workshop. Oshin Organics had previously participated as Maxtone Haus.

PTI NZ Trade Development Manager Ian Furlong said the Path to Market course content underscores the importance of branding and redesigning product packaging to appeal to the more competitive New Zealand market.

Mr Rom said he was impressed by the promising interactions that the PNG delegates had with New Zealand businesses. Without getting into specific details citing commercial sensitivity, he said that there were potential deals for coffee distribution, exclusive handicraft retailing and a very high interest in PNG’s exclusive weaving craft of Bilum. Two Bilum craft organisations were part of Pasifika Business Market this year.

The buzz around the Pacific Business Market and the media and social media coverage had resulted in a larger number of people of PNG origin visiting the PNG stands, Mr Rom said. “It was good to see members of the NZ-PNG Business Council visit the businesses and engage with them and also have a meeting later on.”

Members of PNG’s diplomatic corps headed by PNG High Commissioner to New Zealand Brigadier General (Retd) Francis Agwi also attended the Pasifika Business Market and spent time conversing with the PNG stallholders. This was greatly appreciated by the delegation, Mr Rom said.

For John Paul Alasia, Export development Officer of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI)’s Export Industry Development Office (EIDO), this was the first time at Pasifika.

“This is the sort of that SICCI and Solomon Islands exporters long needed in New Zealand. We are grateful to PTI NZ for putting this together. Such opportunities are too few and far between for our companies,” he said.

Like his PNG counterpart Mr Rom, one of the highlights of the Pasifika Business Market was interaction with companies and exporters from other Pacific Island companies. “While we are looking for New Zealand companies to make deals, doors have also opened to other Pacific Island countries thanks to the Pasifika Business Market,” he said.

He said a coconut company in the Solomon Islands delegation had struck a deal with a buyer and the first shipment is due to land in New Zealand in the next couple of months, he revealed.

Speaking of the usefulness of the Path to Market to Solomon Islands exporters, he Mr Alasia said the workshops had resulted in improved packaging and labelling to keep up with N ew Zealand standards after the programme.

For more information on PNG and Solomon Islands EDAs, email PTI NZ Trde Development Manager Ian Furlong at ian.f@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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