(Pacific Islands Forum)
The Pacific continues to provide an ocean of opportunities for international investors.
Launching the 2012 edition of “Investment Opportunities in the Pacific Islands” this week, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, remarked that investment opportunities found in the Pacific remain as diverse as the region itself.
“Spread across 14 island countries, six time zones and three sub-regions, investors are spoilt for choice,” said Mr Slade.
The publication is the second edition of its kind developed by Pacific Islands Trade & Invest (PT&I), an arm of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat with presence in Auckland, Beijing, Geneva, Sydney and Tokyo.
The PT&I network has the specific objective of promoting Pacific island businesses for increased export and inflow of investments.
“I would like to congratulate the Trade Commissioners of our international trade and investment offices for their continued hard work and initiative to create greater international opportunities for our region’s businesses,” said Mr Slade.
“Our Leaders have recognised the important role of the private sector in the region, and we must continue to support private sector development in the Pacific in pursuit of sustainable economies and communities, and to improve lives of Pacific peoples,” Mr Slade added.
“Investment Opportunities in the Pacific Islands” features 60 investment-ready opportunities in 14 Forum Island Countries (FICs) across various sectors.
FICs include the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Complementary to the publication, PT&I is developing an online database of investment opportunities across the 14 FICs which will be regularly updated.
“When completed, it will be the only database of its kind in the Pacific islands region,” said Mr Slade. “We see this as an excellent way of attracting investor interest in the region and demonstrating that the Pacific is open for business.”
The online database will allow Pacific businesses looking for joint venture partners, equity participation or a buyer to use the database to promote investment in their business free-of-charge.
Thriving tourism platform
Trade Commissioners Mr Adam Dennis (Auckland), Mr Sam Savou (Beijing), Mr Caleb Jarvis (Sydney) Mr Kanichiro Sohma (Tokyo) and Trade Promotions Adviser Ms Robyn Ekstrom (Geneva) continue to promote the Pacific’s natural comparative advantage in the tourism sector and ancillary investments.
“The region’s natural beauty and effortless hospitality truly provides the scope for future growth,” said the Trade Commissioners in the publication’s welcome message.
“One need only imagine the region to conjure up images of thriving traditional cultures, clear lagoons, white sandy beaches, pristine coral reefs, dense tropical jungles and year-round warm weather.
“Indeed, tourism is one of the key economic sectors with which the Pacific islands have a comparative advantage, allowing some of them to compete on an international stage.”
“The thriving tourism sector provides numerous other investment opportunities in the transport, hotel, food supply chain, specialty restaurants, and other such activities that support tourism sector development in the Pacific,” Secretary General Slade added.
Abundant natural resources
Commissioners further highlighted that the Pacific was awash with natural resources.
“Potential investors to the region have the opportunity to capitalise on the growing global demand for high quality organic and fair trade products.
“The Pacific’s burgeoning organic sector offers excellent prospects for growers and exporters, especially in premium products like tropical fruits and vegetables, cacao, coffee, pepper, vanilla and virgin coconut oil.”
Despite the Pacific’s geographic isolation from the traditional European and North American markets, Commissioners say that there are nonetheless numerous success stories, and that the future of global economic growth will emanate largely from Asia.
“The proximity to Asia does provide real prospects and opportunities for growth in trade between Asia and the Pacific, despite the relatively small size of Pacific island economies.”
Commissioners added that technology is also playing a part in addressing the geographical isolation of the region.
“Beyond simple personal communication, mobile telephony in the Pacific has grown to be an invaluable business tool for banking, checking commodity prices, currency transfers and online marketing.”
Internet connectivity in the Pacific islands is also improving according to the Trade Commissioners.
“We invite investors to explore the region and discover firsthand its untapped, raw potential and many distinct advantages in the Pacific ocean of opportunities,” Mr Slade said.