BY BEN BILUA
PACIFIC Trade Investment New Zealand says Solomon Islands has untapped export opportunities in New Zealand.
Speaking to regional journalists on Tuesday, Trade Commissioner Glynis Miller said Solomon Islands has resources with very strong fresh produce in agricultural base, fisheries and timber.
She adds that there is scope for Solomon Islands to grow its footprint in other areas.
Miller said this requires close collaboration between Pacific Trade Investment New Zealand and the government of Solomon Islands.
“It’s important for us to work alongside governments to understand what it is that the government’s priorities are and where they pitch their assistance to exporters in small businesses in Solomon Islands.
“Frozen agricultural products – which for one New Zealand supermarket chain is set to grow by 10% in 2 years – is an immediate opportunity.
“For Solomon Islands where we often say to most to our clients across the Pacific that the frozen segment in New Zealand is an untapped potential,” Miller said.
“If you look at Countdown, in particular -so the Countdown supermarkets in New Zealand – their growth for, 2020 (to) 2021 and 2022 is around from 35 to 45% …for frozen agricultural produce coming in to New Zealand.
Other Solomon Islands exports to New Zealand are also performing well.
“Solomon Islands …biggest export is timber and still is, about NZD$10 million coming into export to New Zealand, followed by coconut oil sitting around $1.1 million, canned tuna that’s growing from around $250,000 to $1 million, cocoa and chocolate follows after.
“So, I think the outlook for us in working with Solomon Islands is we really need to get a better understanding, and we’re waiting for Solomon Islands borders to open to enable us to do this, is to get in country alongside and work alongside businesses on the ground as well as alongside governments,” Miller said.
She said Pacific Trade Investment New Zealand have been working with few companies in Solomon Islands to grow their exports to New Zealand.
Miller said the future for Solomon Islands export is in fresh produce and kava as well as food and beverages.
“We’re been trying to get in some inroads with the Department of Trade and Commerce as well as with the chamber through the private sector, for private sector to bring to the table some broad minded thinking around and what is it that the private sector in the Solomon Islands has ambitions for, to align itself and achieve government’s ambition to grow its economic development and indeed its exports to New Zealand”.
“So the key areas where we’re seeing export opportunities and some value in investments in these areas, in these sectors,” she said.
Miller said Pacific Trade Investment (PTI)-which has trade Commissioners in Australia, China, Japan and Europe, as well as in New Zealand – has been instrumental in securing international markets for SolTuna.
“I think the most telling one for us has been with SolTuna.
“It took us working with SolTuna and their marketing in Brisbane, the good part of two years to get product to market.
“And that was largely due to market entry requirements that the company had to meet, and then testing the market through product samples.
“So, after two and a half years of market assessments SolTuna has now found its footprint in the New Zealand market and as Pacific Trade Invest NZ we also found regional markets for them in New Caledonia.
“And there was a small test in Cook Islands a couple of years ago,” she said.
Soltuna’s exports to New Zealand have quadrupled in value in recent years.