FRENCH POLYNESIA'S ECONOMY MINISTER STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF TRADE WITH NEW ZEALAND

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PAPE‘ETE, French Polynesia (Oct. 2, 2002 - Oceania Flash)---French Polynesia's minister for economy, Georges Puchon, last week met a visiting delegation from New Zealand's trade body, "Trade New Zealand," the local government said last week in a release.

The occasion was to introduce the new head of TNZ's local office, Arianne Csendes.

Speaking to Trade New Zealand regional manager for Australia and Pacific Islands, John Nicholson, Puchon stressed New Zealand ranked fourth in terms of trade imports into French Polynesia with a value of some $80 million last year.

"This is about 7.8 per cent of our total imports in 2001," Puchon said, adding the bulk of those New Zealand products purchased in French Polynesia was meat, dairy and food products, building material and furniture.

The largest three exporters to French Polynesia are France, the United States and Australia.

Puchon also underlined that on the other hand, exports of French Polynesia's products to New Zealand were very low.

"They were only 109 French Pacific Francs (CFP, around $800,000) in 2001, including 44 million CFP worth of copra oil and 50 million CFP for pearls and jewelry," he said.

Puchon called on avenues to explore and identify a dedicated counterpart that could help the French Pacific territory export its products to New Zealand.

Nicholson, on his part, said Pacific countries and territories were important markets for his country.

He also announced that New Zealand's Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton would visit next March.

Sutton was in Fiji last July to launch a "Buy New Zealand" promotion campaign and an exhibition that boasted 25 New Zealand companies, ranging from construction products to food and wine.

Sutton said that while New Zealand was traditionally strong in food exports, hardware and building materials were also key exports to Fiji.

New Zealand exported around $100 million worth of goods to Fiji last year, an increase of 16 percent over the previous year.

The indications are that this year will also produce a good result for New Zealand trade with Fiji, Sutton said.

"Fiji is an important player in the region and is our largest South Pacific trading partner. We want the best possible relationship with Fiji."

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