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Mission Delivers Millions In New Trade

Mission Delivers Millions In New Trade

Auckland, May 5, 2003 -- New Zealand’s first Ministerial-led trade mission to the South Pacific for ten years has opened the door to a wealth of export opportunities tipped to bring in millions of dollars in foreign exchange in coming years.

Trade New Zealand organised the mission which saw a 36-member delegation accompany Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton to four key South Pacific markets over nine days in March – French Polynesia, Samoa, American Samoa and New Caledonia. Gilbert Ullrich, from Ullrich Aluminium, was business leader of the mission.

A number of companies are already doing new business as a result of the trade mission. This includes ENZAFOODS New Zealand Limited which has sent apple juice concentrate and is negotiating sales of pouch-packed diced apple and a new apple syrup product, W H Grove & Sons which has shipped five containers of meat to the French territories and Bellingham Marine, which has completed negotiations with a developer to construct a 220 berth marina in Noumea.

Others expect concrete results in the near future. This includes the Waikato Institute of Technology, which ran seminars with the University of Waikato in Samoa, French Polynesia and New Caledonia to attract students. During the visit the University of Waikato signed a renewed and strengthened co-operation agreement with the University of French Polynesia, which will see the two institutions collaborate on research projects and continue with exchanges of staff and students.

New Zealand Marine Brokers expects demand for its floating and working vessels as new tourist resort developments are completed and Ullrich Aluminium is following up demand for expertise to complete new fisheries, ship building and nickel mining projects.

New Zealand’s Senior Trade Commissioner for Australia and the Pacific, John Nicholson, says the type of mission sent from New Zealand worked incredibly well in a region where there is a strong relationship between politics and commerce.

“Having the Minister with us meant the delegation got very clear messages about which economic development projects are important and likely to get funded. This meant companies talking at a commercial level could discuss specific projects,” he says.

Timing of the visit to French Polynesia was particularly good says Nicholson, as the island nation is ‘repositioning itself as part of the Pacific, rather than looking to France’.

Marina developers Bellingham Marine is one company benefiting from a new interest in the French speaking territories in what New Zealand has to offer.

“In the past tendering for projects in French Polynesia was complex as specifications had to be translated from French to English with reverse translation needed once our bid was written. There is much more flexibility now,” says General Manager Bruce Birtwistle.

His company is also pursuing possible work in constructing marinas for visiting yachts in American Samoa and Samoa as well as following up multi million dollar projects in the other islands, including a major port redevelopment in Apia.

In all the South Pacific nations visited, delegation members say the message is getting out that New Zealand represents value for money.

Equipment Traders has been selling spare parts to producers and manufacturers in the French speaking territories for more than 15 years while another arm of the same company connects buyers and sellers in New Zealand and the French territories.

Managing Director David Maguire says New Zealand has consistently proven itself to be a good exporter.

“New Zealanders are seen as being Pacific Islanders and that gives us preferred supplier status. Having the Minister with us also helped open the doors wider. We didn’t have to spend all the time trying to get appointments with the right people - in fact you got to rub shoulders with them with a glass in your hand.”

As well as being able to meet and greet key people at official functions, business representatives travelling with the Minister were able to leverage off the high profile publicity the mission attracted. In French Polynesia, 14 minutes of prime time television was devoted to the visiting delegation one evening, and the mission made newspaper front pages in the other islands.

The General Manager of W H Grove & Sons, Bede Mahoney, says that delivered significant benefits for companies like his.

“Meeting clients at the official functions helped us do good business. The ease of travel was another major plus – going as a team of New Zealanders together on one plane and getting to four of our client countries in nine days made the mission an excellent investment.”

While often overlooked by exporters, the South Pacific region is New Zealand’s 5th largest export market, and one open to all, says Trade New Zealand's Market Services Manager for the region David Robertson.

“The markets visited by this mission are fast growing and dynamic and looking for a very wide range of products from manufactured goods, to food and beverages, marine equipment and expertise.” In New Caledonia for example up to $8 billion is being invested in infrastructure to support new nickel mining projects, presenting ‘opportunities for New Zealand to supply goods and services to help with everything from construction through to consultancy’.

New Zealand exports to the Pacific totalled NZ$845.7 million in the year ending 30 June 2002, an increase of $70 million over the previous calendar year. With the addition of services, for which no accurate statistics are available, the value of foreign exchange earnings from the region is estimated to exceed $1.2 billion.

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