Tongan Commerce Ministry leads 4 companies to Pasifika

Tonga’s Ministry of Commerce, Consumer, Trade, Innovation & Labour (MCCTIL) is a leading a delegation of four exporting companies from Tonga to the Pasifika Festival next week in Auckland.The companies form a contingent of 35 from 11 countries around the Pacific which will participate in Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) New Zealand’s Pasifika Business Market at the annual festival on March 24-25.

Esterlina Kautoke ‘Alipate, Senior Trade Officer at MCCTIL who will lead the delegation said the Pasifika Business Market is an opportunity for Tongan products to be exposed and promoted in the New Zealand market.  “It will also help identify new investment and export opportunities,” she added.

Participation at the Pasifika Business Market is part of PTI NZ’s Path to Market programme, a seven-stage capacity building programme for exporters and export ready companies in the Pacific to help them find markets for their products in New Zealand.

PTI NZ delivers the programme partnering with the in-country Economic Development Agency (EDA), which in the case of Tonga is MCCTIL. The most recent Path to Market workshop in Tonga was hosted in the country’s capital Nuku’alofa on October 26 last year, which 35 delegates attended. Another was held exactly a year earlier in 2016.

An important stage in Path to Market programme is the invited companies’ participation in a trade delegation at events such as Pasifika. Following the showcasing of their products, the companies attend a gap analysis workshop and a speed-dating style event to meet with prospective buyers and distributors in New Zealand.

Esterlina Kautoke ‘Alipate, Senior Trade Officer at MCCTIL will lead the Tongan delegation.

Ms ‘Alipate said the four companies represented had the potential to export to New Zealand. As well as promoting these companies, she planned to outline investment opportunities in Tonga while in Auckland.

“I can facilitate the promotion of their products, meet potential investors and negotiate opportunities for their products and identify new investment opportunities for Tonga to explore.  The Ministry has a business directory that will be made available which will inform potential investors of investment and joint venture opportunities available in Tonga,” she told Pacific Periscope.

Ms ‘Alipate said Tonga’s private sector was affected by the recent Tropical Cyclone Gita, which had hindered the participation for some businesses at Pasifika.

“Cocker Enterprises was affected by the cyclone and as a result had to withdraw from the Path to Market Mission to New Zealand.

“The Hahake District Working Council was to supply a container of fresh coconuts and taro but now is only limited to cartons of taro as majority of the coconuts where affected,” she said.

Speaking of the experience of Tongan companies at Pasifika through the Path to Market programme, Ms ‘Alipate said, “To previous Pasifika [participants] it is an eye-opening experience for the exposure of their products, to obtain feedback from customers and also identify what they need to improve upon.”

MCCTIL values the partnership with PTI NZ, Ms ‘Alipate said. “PTI New Zealand plays an important role in facilitating our participation in providing prompt advice and support and we are indeed grateful for their continuous assistance.”

The Tongan companies will be displaying their wares at the PTI NZ Pasifika Business Market on March 24-25 at the Pasifika Festival in Western Springs, Auckland.

For more information, email PTI NZ Trade Development Manager Joe Fuavao at

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