The first trade mission to the Pacific organised by Auckland Council has been hailed as a success by the businesses and organisations who attended.
The Mayor has been leading a group of Auckland business and community leaders to Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands with the aim of developing closer economic and political relationships with three of Auckland’s Pacific partner countries.
“Auckland is the city with the largest population of Pacific people in the world. This was a great opportunity to link Auckland companies to businesses in the islands and support economic development,” says Len Brown.
Delegates included selected executives and leaders drawn from the education, infrastructure and food & beverage sectors.
“The trade mission has been constructive for Auckland’s F&B sector,” says Fresha Export Ltd director Don Claasen.
“We’ve engaged with a number of companies in the islands as we look to expand our exports. The Mayor and his team have led a professional delegation and opened doors we might not normally get through.”
During the trip, a variety business agreements were signed that will mean increased two- way trade between Auckland and the islands.
New Zealand exports approximately $280 million to the three countries, while we import $9 million in return, a fact described by attendees as both an issue and an opportunity.
“We see these trade missions as an investment and we’re happy to cover our participation because of the benefits and opportunities they create,” says Friendlypak managing director Kevin Graham.
“Auckland Council has strong links with a number of businesses and governments in the pacific region and we were able to leverage that to create new opportunities for our company.”
Massey University took the opportunity during the Samoan leg of the mission to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the National University of Samoa. Project Manager for Pasifika@Massey Ben Taufua says that the trip allowed his institution to strengthen relationships with counterparts in the islands.
“By working together we are able to increase educational opportunities with students in the pacific and in our institutions back home. This memorandum of understanding is a platform for us to maximise promotion, marketing and recruitment for the university and that will benefit Samoa as well as Auckland,” says Mr Taufua.
Engagement with the Pacific Islands was highlighted as an important goal by members of the delegation in order to ensure regional development continues.
“New Zealand needs to maintain its focus on the Pacific,” says chief executive of Computer Clubhouse Mike Usmar.
“Auckland has an important role to play in providing linkages between the private and public sectors of New Zealand and the Pacific. Mayor Brown has done a great job leading our region’s engagement and created opportunities for success.”
Commenting on the need to focus on export-led growth, Alrite International Ltd managing director Bhaskar Sharma says Auckland Council should maintain a programme of international trade-focused missions.
“The council has an important role to play in leading these delegations because of the valuable contribution they make to our region’s economic development,” says Mr Sharma.
During the mission, the newly formed Auckland Council signed memorandums of cooperation with each government to outline areas where each party can work together on business and cultural development.