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Manukau trade delegation off to French Polynesia

21 April 2006

Manukau trade delegation heading to French Polynesia

A trade delegation with representatives from 20 businesses in Manukau and surrounding areas heads to Tahiti Nui (French Polynesia) next week on a six day visit to increase trade and other links. The delegation, led by Mayor Sir Barry Curtis, is the third in a series of Pacific visits by Manukau business groups.

Sir Barry will be supported by Gilbert Ullrich, Chairman of the New Zealand Pacific Business Council, who will head the business delegation. The invitation to send a delegation came from the President of Tahiti Nui, Oscar Temaru, who was in Manukau recently and met with Sir Barry. He is keen to increase trade and other exchanges with New Zealand.

The push to increase trade opportunities with Pacific Island nations began last year with two successful delegations to the Cook Islands and Samoa. It was followed up by the Pacific Trade Expo held at the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre in Manukau last month, where Tahiti Nui was strongly represented. The Expo, the first of its kind, led to an estimated $4.8 million in direct sales, and potential future sales of $15 – 20 million.

The aim of these initiatives is to increase two-way trade to benefit both parties. Currently, the trade balance with Tahiti Nui is in New Zealand’s favour by over 42 to one (compared to 6 to 1 for all Pacific Island countries).

Sir Barry says although New Zealand has an established presence in the Pacific, our share of trade is falling in the face of increasing competition from nations such as Australia and China, which are pushing strongly, both economically and politically. “We need to raise our profile, as it’s a growing market. There’s huge untapped potential in the Pacific, including Tahiti Nui, especially in food products, construction, air services, tourism, education, consultancy, maritime businesses and fishing.”

A quarter of a million people live in French Polynesia and the average per capita income is higher than in New Zealand.

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Sir Barry has established strong links with the government and trade officials in Tahiti Nui, which laid the foundation for the visit. “Actually being on the
ground in these places makes all the difference, and we plan to lift our profile via the local media and business community contacts while there.”

A Memorandum of Co-operation will also be signed during the visit.

Manukau City Council is involved as part of its role in supporting economic growth for the city. Sir Barry says it is important to create jobs and help the business community move forward.

The Council is also promoting foreign investment in the city. “We’ll definitely be selling Manukau while we’re there. We need to generate business growth that will create 4,500 new jobs each year. To achieve that we must be pro-active in telling overseas investors what we have to offer.

“There’s a huge financial return for every dollar invested in visits such as these. I also believe we can help the island nations develop in other ways, such as offering educational exchange opportunities for their young people.” The Manukau Institute of Technology is included in the delegation and the businesses represented include Ullrich Aluminium, WH Grove and Sons, Wattyl, Heller Tasty and Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Ltd.

The group leaves on April 30 and it is not too late for more businesses to join. More information can be obtained from the New Zealand-Pacific Business Council, tel 09 2626262 ext 855 (Richard Maugueret).

ENDS

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