By Daniel Taylor, head of manufacturing, NZTE

As New Zealanders jet off to Pacific Islands to soak up some sun and avoid the winter chills, it seemed like a great time to take a look at this part of the world not just as a holiday option, but also as a manufacturing export destination.

Not only is the Pacific a hugely important in terms of our cultural, historical and family ties; it is also a really significant export market for New Zealand.  Prior to Covid, our two-way trade was $3.2 billion, of which $2.2 billion was New Zealand exports.  Within the region, Fiji is our largest market, with other markets of note including Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia, and Cook Islands.

From a manufacturing perspective, the Pacific is our third largest global market for iron and steel, mechanical machinery and electrical machinery respectively. 

The region faces its share of challenges, which in turn create opportunities.  The infrastructure gap is estimated in the tens of billions, and climate change is putting huge additional pressures on physical and social infrastructure across the region.  But the Pacific is also a resilient and innovative place.  Pacific nations are coordinating billions of dollars in new investment for climate resilient infrastructure from traditional partners like Australia, New Zealand and the multilateral development banks. With a number of New Zealand companies having a physically presence across the region, and a strong history of partnership, we are well placed to be involved in constructing and maintaining this critical infrastructure.

The Asian Development Bank and World Bank are key institutions when it comes to funding infrastructure in the region. Both have very significant project pipelines spanning nearly every Pacific country and across key sectors including energy, transport and utilities. Although working with the banks can seem procedurally complex and daunting, it is important to remember that most of the time they’re acting as funders, and the procurement process for their projects is managed by individual pacific government agencies. So, connections and contacts across the region are key. 

As with any market, human connections are the foundation of business success.  And nowhere is this truer than in the Pacific.  With borders now reopening across the region, there has never been a better time for Kiwi businesses to get back out there and reconnect with business partners in this wonderful part of the world.   

For more information about the export opportunities, business culture and what’s involved in setting up operations in this region, check out our market guides on myNZTE.