2012 FTMM: Pacific Islands Trade and Invest boosts region’s investments

[Majuro, RMI] – Pacific Islands Trade & Invest continues to drive opportunities for international investment in Forum Island Countries.

The 2012 Forum Trade Ministers Meeting, held today in Majuro, the capital of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, was provided an update on strategic and strengthening work undertaken by Pacific Islands Trade & Invest in 2011, and plans for 2012.

Pacific Islands Trade & Invest comprises the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s four trade representative offices in Auckland, Beijing, Sydney and Tokyo.

Trade Ministers noted the good results of the Pacific Islands Trade & Invest offices, despite the difficult operating environment while seeking to promote isolated economies, in distant markets, with limited products and modest access to finance.

Addressing Ministers and Officials this week, Trade Commissioner to the Beijing Office, Mr Samuela Savou, reported the successful completion of a significant investment in a tuna loining factory in Kiribati by Golden Ocean.

The factory will directly employ 100 local staff and also create employment opportunities for local fishermen making it one of the largest private sector employers in Kiribati.

“The investment was a direct outcome of the 2010 China-Forum Island Countries Trade and Investment Symposium in Shanghai,” explained Mr Savou.

“The Beijing Office was integral to the initiation and facilitation of this investment which reaffirms the Pacific Islands Trade & Invest commitment to assisting Smaller Island States.” Other highlights to Ministers included the Auckland Office work with the New Zealand Government to host the Oceans of Opportunity Investment Summit in September 2011 in the margins of the Auckland Forum Leaders’ Meeting.

The Summit attracted more than 200 delegates from the region’s tourism, banking, finance, shipping, logistics, cruises, agriculture, development, social entrepreneurship and non-government sectors.

The Summit also marked the launch of the Investment Opportunities in the Pacific Islands 2011 publication, which promotes a range of investment-ready proposals in Forum Island Countries.

“This publication was supported by the Government of Japan, and will be expanded in 2012, as well as translated in Chinese due to the high demand for investment opportunities we are seeing from China,” said Mr Savou.

The work of the Japan Office was also noted for facilitating export shipments of seaweed (Mozuku) from Tonga to the Japanese market subsequent to the FTMM and Trade Show in Va’vau last May.

The Sydney Office continued its work to promote niche tourism through online service providers, Ministers heard.

“A significant achievement this year for the Sydney Office was the promotion of small tourism properties through Australia’s largest online booking provider, Wotif,” added Mr Savou.

“Since commencing this work, an additional 67 new properties have been listed on Wotif from the Pacific, with participants reporting an increase in bookings of around 40 per cent.”

The Sydney Office also undertook a new initiative to help entrepreneurs access finance from commercial lenders to develop their exports.

“We have been greatly encouraged by the positive results of this initiative, which saw financing to small businesses in the Solomon Islands, the pilot, in excess of FJ$1.1million,” said Mr Savou.

Pacific Islands Trade & Invest aims to develop, grow and promote industry and the businesses of Forum Island Countries in export, investment and tourism promotion across international markets.

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