Trade Pasifika Expo Promotes Local Produce For Overseas Markets

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Pacific products could occupy niches in Australia, New Zealand

By Jane Joshua

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, June 29, 2012) – Exporters attending the inaugural Trade Pasifika 2012 were urged to take advantage of demands for Pacific Island produce like coconut products, fresh fruits and vegetables, cocoa, coffee and gluten free flour, amongst others, in niche markets overseas.

Fifty Pacific entrepreneurs attended the inaugural Trade Pasifika 2012 that concluded at the Sheraton in Denarau today. Trade Pasifika 2012 provided an opportunity for Pacific entrepreneurs to showcase their products and services as well as interact with trade specialists during the event and the specially designed panel discussions.

Speaking at the panel discussion today Sam Savou, the Pacific Islands Trade and Invest’s Trade Commissioner in China said there was an export window for pawpaw, or papaya, from the Pacific in the Chinese winter season.

"Off season pawpaw can fetch FJ$60.00 [US$32.82] a kilo in China, while off season hybrid mangoes can sell for FJ$40.00 per kilo. We can tap into this market," he said.

However, he pointed out that none of the Pacific Island countries who have diplomatic relations with China had agricultural export protocols with the country. He urged the exporters to work with their governments to catalyze the development of bilateral agricultural export protocols with China to tap into the market.

Teremoana Mato from the Pacific Island Trade and Invest’s Auckland Office shared some success stories of agricultural exports reintegrating the New Zealand market. He said that the pineapples from Fiji and pawpaw from Cook Islands were being brought back onto the New Zealand market.

New Opportunities

"There are opportunities on the New Zealand market for value added Pacific products like desiccated coconut and gluten free flour. Here at Trade Pasifika 2012 we have met up with an exporter who produces gluten-free flour," said Mr. Mato.

Mr. Savou also said that health was a growing sector in China and added that one of the Pacific exporters was doing well exporting 100 percent noni juice to the traditional Chinese medicine sector.

Jeremy Granell from the Pacific Island Trade and Invest’s Australia Office also said that there was a huge potential for health driven products in Australia which were sold in specialty shops.

He shared the success story of a type of cocoa from Papua New Guinea (PNG) that was developed for the gourmet chocolate market. He said the distributer from Australia visited the PNG farmers and worked with them to get the product he wanted. The resulting product was branded and marketed and is now fetching premium price.

Robyn Ekstrom, the Trade Promotion Adviser at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s Geneva (WTO) Office said that there were opportunities for coconut sugar, certified wood, certified seafood, art, soft furnishing and ornamental fish on the European market.

At the panel discussion the issue of consistent and quality supply of produce from the Pacific was raised as well as packaging and labeling. It was highlighted that a consistent and quality supply was important to secure markets. Exporters also heard that certifications were necessary to get access to markets.

Next Steps for Trade Pasifika

The Chairperson of the Trade Pasifika 2012 organising committee Kaliopate Tavola said he received positive feedback on the event.

"We have proven that the concept of Trade Pasifika can work. I have had feedback that there were many linkages made and good networks established at Trade Pasifika 2012," said Mr. Tavola.

He thanked the sponsors for their support and said he would raise the issue of making Trade Pasifika an annual or biannual event at tomorrow’s PIPSO annual general meeting.

Trade Pasifika 2012 is sponsored by ANZ and has received support from Williams and Goslings, Air Pacific, Air Terminal Service, Fiji TV as well as the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The event has been organized by the Pacific Island Private Sector organization (PIPSO) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Centre, Secretariat of the Pacific community (SPC), AusAID’s Pacific Leadership Programme, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, private sector representatives and the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

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