Exports vital to economic development in Micronesia

It was great to be a part of the recent Path to Market program to Micronesia. This is the fourth year in a row Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) NZ have visited the three Micronesian members of the Forum and it is clear that there is significant need for further programs in these areas. 

The most recent visit was in November 2018.

It is important that our role is not set in concrete and that the needs of our both our clients and private sector partners are listened to.

Export is an important component of building economic prosperity and lifting out of the poverty trap but so is Import Substitution and Pan Pacific Trade.

The Path to Market programs in Palau, FSM and Majuro all followed similar themes with a session being held on Chamber of Commerce Capability building being added to the existing program.

The Buy Local campaign has long been a well requested Module for Path to Market and the Chamber in Palau has to be congratulated for the great work they have done highlighting products made in Palau at the International Departure Lounge. Many of the companies have been through Path to Market and the Value Added Products professionally presented are World Class.

PTI NZ has had a long relationship with the American Department of Insular Affairs and there may be a meeting of minds over how to deliver extra services into this part of the World which may also include Mentoring.

Focused Tourism is becoming a Big Picture discussion with Korea, Japan and The Republic of China being at the top of people’s wish list. The logistics for increasing Tourism is based around air links and it is pleasing to see increased air links from the Pacific slowly offering alternative options to United Airlines.

It is clear that for Micronesia their strongest potential markets will continue to be Guam and Hawaii. These are markets for other parts of the Pacific as well and it is clear that in addition to the Forum membership granted recently to the French Territories the discussion will start soon around membership of the American Territories.

It was good to see some of the progress on Kosrae the Banana Wallet Company is making employing now 35 people. We are hoping to get a second NZ order in the New Year!

The Fishing Industry is also an opportunity it was good to see Fish Packhouses about Micronesia filling stockpiled 40 Foot Containers and employing local people. But there are big numbers of Mother Boats filling up with fish caught from Tuna Fishing Boats in FSM Waters around Pohnpei.

In Majuro we discussed the value of subscribing to Pacific Periscope as a way of hearing about success stories across the Pacific. There is a significant opportunity for PTI NZ to take a lead in advocacy and assist in getting regional support for issues such as Sea Freight Costs to Markets like New Zealand and the impact of the American Postal System on fledgling Exporters.

Niche Industries such as Beetle Nut, Tropical Fish, Farmed Clams and Coral all have strong players making a significant contribution to their respective economies.

Path to Market and Pacific Hub are recognised Brands in this part of the World and the success stories they are generating are helping others step up to the plate.

PTI NZ thank the members and the officers of the Chambers of Commerce across Micronesia and the members of Government working with us to deliver economic outcomes.

I wish you all a successful and prosperous New Year.

Mike Greenslade Trade & Investment Commissioner michael.g@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz