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Sutton Seeks To Boost Trade With Visit To Fiji

15 July 2002

Sales of New Zealand products in Fiji could double during the next month as part of a promotion being held in conjunction with a trade fair in Suva, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton has returned to New Zealand after opening a successful New Zealand trade show in Fiji, launching a "Buy New Zealand" campaign organised by TradeNZ, and supporting New Zealand exporters.

"This trade exhibition boasted 25 New Zealand companies, ranging from construction products to food and wine. The trade show had been planned for many months and despite the early election, it was important that I show the Government's support for our exporters."

The trade show was opened on Thursday evening and attracted more than two hundred visitors to its opening including a number of senior Fiji cabinet ministers, Mr Sutton said.

"A number of the exhibitors, who were participating in their first trade show in Fiji, were most impressed with the quality of contacts they made at the opening, and expected good business opportunities would flow from these. The show was, according to a number of those who had attended previous New Zealand trade shows, one of the best ever staged.

"Both during the show and in separate discussions with politicians and business leaders, I was told how much the Fiji government and the business community appreciated my visit at this time and everyone was confident about prospects for increased trade at a time when the economy was showing some real signs of growth."

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

"Vinod Patel, probably the largest retailer and distributor of hardware and building products in Fiji, are constantly looking to source more products from New Zealand. Their flagship store has just undergone major renovations and is managed by a New Zealander.

"Other stores indicated that over 30% of the products sold are now sourced from New Zealand."

Mr Sutton said he visited a "most impressive" display of New Zealand food and beverage products in at one of Fiji's largest supermarkets, Morris Hedstrom, as part of the Buy New Zealand and Win promotion which runs through until 12 August.

"Fiji importers indicated that this promotion could increase sales of New Zealand products 3 to 4 times during the promotion. Products involved range from meat from one of New Zealand's largest meat processors PPCS to a range of fruit, dairy products, packaged and frozen products."

Mr Sutton noted that several products on sale in Fiji came from his home area of South Canterbury.

New Zealand exported $217 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, he said.

"We are looking to the future, and the future for trade looks good."

Mr Sutton's visit was the first official visit by a Minister to Fiji since a coup two years ago and also the first New Zealand trade show for over two years.

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

Mr Sutton met Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, Foreign Affairs and External Trade Minister Kaliopate Tavola, Commerce Minister Tomasi Vuetilovoni, and Agriculture Minister Jonetani Galuinadi.

Mr Sutton described his reception by Fiji Ministers as warm and positive.


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