Speech at the French Pacific Business Forum
E ngā mana, E ngā reo, rau rangatira ma. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.
Bonjour, Bienvenue, ia ora na, Bocu
I am very pleased to welcome you all here today to the first ever French Pacific Business Forum. Firstly, I would like to recognise the work of those who have organised this event; the French Chamber of Commerce, together with New Caledonia Trade and Invest, RPPS (Représentation Patronale du Pacifique Sud), and the taskforce with the support of the French Embassy. We are thrilled to have been selected as the first country to host this event and look forward to seeing it grow in the future.
Today is a chance for businesses from New Caledonia and French Polynesia to learn about the New Zealand market, and crucially, to make business-to-business connections. We are certainly very pleased that so many of you could travel to be with us here in person today. Welcome.
Current trade relationship
The economic relationship between us is already significant. The French Pacific is an important regional market for New Zealand, representing over NZ$300 million in total goods and services exports in recent years. This is roughly on par with our annual exports to metropolitan France and makes the French Pacific the second largest market for New Zealand in the Pacific (excluding Australia).
We know that New Zealand is an important source of tourists for the French Pacific, and that there is a desire to do more in strengthening trade and investment. New Zealand is open for business for products from your region. There are zero tariffs on goods and numerous phytosanitary protocols exist to support this trade [For New Caledonia I counted 16 SPS agreements]
There is still so much potential to grow a mature economic relationship between New Zealand and the French Pacific, one which takes in goods, services and investment. A relationship in which we recognise each others’ norms, standards and qualifications, and one in which our business people can freely trade without barriers. That’s why we are here today.
For those officials and Government representatives here today – our job is to get the regulatory frameworks in place, open the doors and then get out of the way. To allow the entrepreneurial spirit that is alive and well in the Pacific to flourish.
That’s why the New Zealand Government has been working to make sure our trade agreements open up market opportunities, streamline processes and reduce costs, while ensuring that Māori can participate effectively in key trade policy discussions and negotiations, more than ever before. As a government we are also working to optimise international trade opportunities for Māori exporters and playing a leadership role in expanding Indigenous participation through collaboration arrangements in global trade.
As our trade and economic relationship with the European Union, including France, prepares to move to the next level with the (hopefully imminent) signature and then ratification of the NZ-EU free trade agreement, New Zealand looks forward to exploring ways to support a more mature trade and economic relationship with the French Pacific as well.
There are opportunities to do more in the Pacific, through agreements like PACER Plus which establishes a common set of trading rules for the region, making it easier for businesses to trade throughout the Pacific. It will help Pacific countries to attract investment and increase exports, driving economic growth and providing higher incomes and more opportunities for people.
Why is this important?
Open, rules-based trade is crucial to help the region and the world recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is a challenging time for our region, and the impact of COVID-19 over past three years has been particularly difficult for Pacific economies, especially those that rely on tourism.
Aotearoa is a trading nation – trade is a critical part of our economy and we know trade improves prosperity. Through the development of Aotearoa New Zealand’s Trade for All agenda, we have established a clear picture of the value of international trade for those that participate, and continue to work to ensure that the beenfits of trade are better shared by all. Exporting firms tend to be more productive that non-exporting firms, and goods exporting firms have on average three times higher sales and four times higher levels of business capital.
Building a stronger, more integrated, and more diverse regional economy is one way that we can help each other build back better, to become more resilient.
This Forum brings you together today from a wide range of different sectors. Today is just a first step. I hope you will make the most of the opportunity presented by this Forum to build the connections and understanding that will help you to grow trade and investment between our markets.
I’d like to end with a whakatauki, Māori proverb Whiria te tāngata, which means to weave the people together. I think this describes the goal of today’s forum very well! And weaving is important across our blue pacific continent – Te Moana nui a kiwa.
Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi.