BEING the first ever exhibition specifically focused on the region, the Trade Pasifika 2012 can be deemed a success. "On the whole it has gone very well, judging from the comments by the exhibitors," Trade Pasifika chairman, Kaliopate Tavola said. "The exhibition had provided an opportunity to network and discuss issues."
Mr Tavola, however, said there were lessons to be learnt from this first ever exhibition. For example, attracting more buyers to participate. Mr Tavola said that while the offer to buyers was attractive, they were perhaps not given enough time to prepare for the show.
"I think the lesson learnt is that we need to give them more time to prepare," he added. "But as a first time, I think we did well and it is a good concept that can work."
Mr Tavola said the location of the exhibition at the Sheraton Fiji Resort in Denarau was perhaps "disconnected" from members of the public. "We could have perhaps provided free buses," he said. "But the exhibitors are generally happy, teething problems are to be expected."
Looking forward, Mr Tavola said, the main organiser- the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation- should now decide whether the trade show should be an annual event and whether it should be held in one location or shifted offshore for example.
"I have a good team at PIPSO who despite the challenges, has been able to get everything together in organising the sponsors, workshops, the presenters and other logistical issues. And we are grateful to the sponsors."
Trade Pasifika 2012 was held on June 25 to 28 and was sponsored by ANZ with support from Williams and Gosling, Air Pacific, Air Terminal Service, Fiji TV as well as the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The event was organised by the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Centre, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), AusAID's Pacific Leadership Programme, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, private sector representatives and the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
It attracted more than 50 booths displaying produce and services from across the Pacific. Panel discussions on trade issues were scheduled for the three days it was held to facilitate dialogue between the private sector, trade, export and import specialists.
Issues raised during the discussions included financing export businesses, shipping produce, the procedures involved in Customs clearance, trade agreements and the influx of Asian goods into the region.
There was also discussion on the PACER-Plus, where the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat director of economic governance, Shiu Raj said that the region had taken long to implement the trade agreements.
Former regional trade negotiator, Mr Tavola said that even though cabinets approved trade agreements, legal provisions still needed to be made to implement the agreements and this had proven to be a problem for governments.