Promoting better partnerships between Tonga and New Zealand

Despite its isolated location, there are many investment and export opportunities across various sectors in the Kingdom of Tonga.

The Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) team attended the recent New Zealand Tonga Business Council (NZTBC) Bilateral Business Forum to learn more about the challenges and achievements in trade development between Tonga and New Zealand.

Chair of the NZTBC Rachel Afeaki-Taumoepeau says the NZTBC Business Forum is always a great opportunity to increase and encourage two-way trade between Tonga and New Zealand.

At the Forum, Speaker of the House at the Tonga Government Lord Fakafanua provided a comprehensive overview of trade and investment opportunities for Tonga in New Zealand.

“Despite its isolation, Tonga exports represent $4 million in value,” he says.

“The main sectors in development being tourism, fisheries, agriculture and handicrafts.”

One of the key interventions was the presentation of biosecurity matters by Nacanieli G Waqa, a Specialist Advisor Pacific at the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), who shared the common pathways for commercial importation from Tonga to New Zealand.

Nacanieli says the main fresh products were watermelon (biggest export), squash and butternut, banana and plantain, yellow cassava, ginger and coconut.

“To succeed in developing exports, it’s very important to have a deep knowledge of the market – things like the best time of export to New Zealand; size of the market; consumer behaviour; competition; and competitive edge.”

As there are some difficulties remaining for Tonga to access the New Zealand market, MPI is currently working on a new Bilateral Quarantine Arrangement (BQA) to be implemented within a three-year timeline.