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Facilitating inter-island trade

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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Facilitating inter-island trade

As well as facilitating trade from Pacific Island Forum member nations with countries outside the region, Pacific Islands Trade & Invest (PT&I) also works toward promoting intra-regional trade. In May this year, PT&I NZ was part of a trade mission from Tonga’s agribusiness sector to Samoa.

Tonga’s Minister of Agriculture and Food, Forests and Fisheries, Honourable Sione Sangster Saulala led the trade mission, which the Government of Tonga initiated, to discuss opportunities under a potential bilateral free trade agreement. The delegation of Government officials and exporters met with the Government Ministries and th private sector in Samoa on how the agreement could be made beneficial for both countries.

A key achievement of the trade mission was the successful trial shipment of fresh watermelons from Tonga from the country’s leading agriculture firm Nishi Trading to a local Samoan supermarket chain, Farmer Joe.

Tongan businessman Minoru Nishi of Nishi Trading, which exported the watermelons, said the trade has been a win-win for all concerned. “It meant money in the pockets of small farmers, Governments, shipping carriers and agents, exporters and of course, many happy consumers who longed for Tongan watermelons. Since the success of our first container, the market is about to receive its third container and we are now planning for regular supply into Apia.”

PT&I NZ’s Knowledge & Research Manager Joe Fuavao, who was in Samoa during the mission, said the feedback was positive. “The success of watermelon exports from Tonga to Samoa highlighted the potential for more intraregional trade. This is coming through in our work as we receive an increasing amount of interest in exploring market opportunities in neighbouring Pacific Island countries, particularly Fiji and Papua New Guinea,” Mr Fuavao adds.

Source: pacifictradeinvest.com