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Focus on private sector investment challenges

Monika Singh
Friday, December 08, 2017

A RESEARCH report aimed to shed light on the drivers of and barriers to private sector investment (both foreign and local) in the Pacific was launched this week in New Zealand.

Funded by the New Zealand Institute of Pacific Research, the report — Private Sector Investment in the Pacific — was presented by Professor Simon Milne AUT associate head of School, Research and Development and director, New Zealand Tourism Research Institute at Fale Pasifika Auckland University this week.

Some questions highlighted by Professor Milne in the research included:

* What are the potential barriers or disincentives to investment in the Pacific? To what extent can these be sustainably overcome?

* What are the costs and risks to the receiving economies of greater investment and how can these be avoided, reduced or managed?

* How can the growth/development impact of investment (both foreign and local) be enhanced?

In his presentation Professor Milne said investment was critical to Pacific Island countries but deeper understanding of the processes that underlie, constrain and enable private investment (foreign and local) was needed.

The report examined the costs and risks of foreign investment to the receiving country and how this could be managed or moderated and the how the impact of investment both foreign and local be enhanced.

A report by the Pacific Trade and Invest newsletter Pacific Periscope said the report also highlighted that finding good data to attract investment into the Pacific had been difficult.

In his presentation Professor Milne touched on the four focus areas of the report which were tourism, agriculture, renewable energy and telecommunications.

The research report also surveyed 33 experts who worked in-country facilitating or managing investment opportunities.

It recommends to investors to be clear on land issues and getting the right advice from local businesses and communities, starting small, learning more about local conditions and the people. Creating local networks and relationships, focusing on authenticity, and building in a 'sense of place' into the products and experiences was another valuable advice from investors and experts in the field.

According to the Pacific Periscope, for the 'experts' the report presented seven points towards an enabling environment for investment.

From strong due diligence in vetting foreign direct investment to creating government policies targeting key development goals including the local investor and simplifying the investment process.

The report ends with an observation from a research participant who said the Pacific is a community based economy with almost all activities in the informal sector.

If companies understood that, worked with that, created stories around that they would do well and get high prices for their products.

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