24 attend PTI NZ’s first Path to Market in Tuvalu

FUNAFUTI, 22 NOVEMBER 2018 (PACIFIC PERISCOPE) – With a land area of just 26 square kilometres spread across six coral atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Tuvalu is one of the world’s smallest and most isolated countries.

Its population of slightly over 11,000 people is engaged mainly in agriculture, fisheries, handicraft and small trading activities. Many Tuvaluans work overseas and on the high seas as sought-after sea men, contributing to the economy by way of remittances.

Earlier in November, Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) NZ conducted its Path to Market export capability building workshop for the first ever time for Tuvalu’s private sector. Trade Development Manager Ian Furlong and Head of Investment Manuel Valdez co-hosted the workshop partnering with Tuvalu’s Department of Trade and the country’s National Private Sector Organisation as the in-country economic development agencies.

In February 2018, Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga had paid an official visit to the PTI NZ offices in Auckland. Mr Sopoaga said he saw a major role for the private sector in helping economic development as also to fight the effects of climate change in his atoll nation. He welcomed any programmes and initiatives PTI NZ could provide to help economic development in Tuvalu.

Prime Minister Sopoaga said Tuvalu’s traditional products like toddy or viscous coconut sugar syrup held much promise. “It has great potential,” he had told Joe Fuavao, PTI NZ’s Trade Development Manager and Dev Nadkarni, Marketing, Communications & Research Manager and Pacific Periscope Editor back at the February meeting, adding that coconut oil and breadfruit were also promising candidates for exports with the right kind of processing and packaging inputs to develop them.

This month’s Path to Market workshop was in response to the Prime Minister’s visit and request,Furlong said.

Twenty-four individuals representing Tuvalu’s private sector attended the workshop. Participants were from the food and beverage, agribusiness, fisheries, trading, hospitality and small business sectors. Among the participants were the Speaker of the Tuvaluan parliament, Otinielu Tausi, who also owns a noni and virgin coconut oil business and Itaia Lausaveve, CEO of the Tuvalu National Private Sector Organisation, Furlong said.

The Tuvalu Government has plans to boost exports of handicraft, coconut oil, noni juice, toddy and other products in the agribusiness sector, he added. About half-a-dozen companies that attended the workshop were ready export ready and there was a distinct possibility that one or two of these could be represented at a trade show like the one around the Pasifika Festival in Auckland next year,Furlong said.

Valdez said he conducted the Finance and Investment module of the workshop.

“Four companies in Tuvalu – two each in the fisheries and agribusiness sectors were very keenly interested in inviting investment into their expansion projects,” Valdez told Pacific Periscope. He said details of the projects will be listed on PTI NZ’s Pacific Hub website shortly. Valdez said the handicraft products “definitely deserved exposure to customers in New Zealand.”

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