Feb 20, 2019 Last Updated 5:09 AM, Feb 20, 2019

Sailing into known waters

Swire boosts import-export services

A NEW shipping service combined with the upgrade of liner networks will open up key markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Swire Shipping General Manager, James Woodrow, said Asian markets were integral to trade in the Pacific.

“For example Fiji sends a lot of sugar and now minerals by ship to Asia and there is a lot of trade in the opposite direction,” Woodrow said. Speaking to Islands Business after taking over the operations of Pacific Agencies and opening Swire’s re-branded Fiji offices, Woodrow said he was confident of the way forward. “We are looking at slowly expanding our business in Fiji,” Woodrow said.”

“We owned 50 per cent of Pacific Agencies and  Swire has now taken over the entire business. “And we are very proud of the excellent staff Swire has in place in Suva and Lautoka. “We are continuously looking at ways to upgrade our services and network to offer greater frequency, faster transit time and better coverage for our key markets.’ Fiji will provide a vital hub for Pacific exports because of its accessibility to small island countries.

And its large manufacturing base ensures sufficient cargo for shipping companies to move on return voyages. Swire owns the China Navigation Company, which has been operating in and through Fiji since 1958. Its current service provides links to Australia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, South East Asia, China, Korea and Japan...

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PACER setback

Trade agreement no closer to a Plus in economic cooperation relations for the Pacific 

JUNE 14, this year, marked the signing ceremony of the Pacific Agreement for Closer Economic Relations (PACER-plus) Trade Agreement in Tonga. The ten countries that signed the agreement included; Australia, New Zealand (the “Plus”), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Nauru, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Cook Islands, Niue and Tonga.

That event should have been a keystone Pacific Islands ceremony, and it could have been deferred, given the torrid conditions that had prevailed in the recent “good faith” trade negotiations amongst the Forum Member countries and the conclusive meeting in April, held in Brisbane, Australia. Fiji didn’t sign and could be excused, due to its Government’s decision not to re-join the Forum and had established an alternative organisation.

In my commentary, I deliberately will not talk about the technicalities of a “Free” trade agreement, as an instrument for enhancing closer economic relations in the Pacific, but I offer a personal reflection on my disbelief and disappointment that the key principles of governance and leadership, that have been the cornerstone of the Pacific Islands Forum, for more than four decades, have been diminished and ignored. PACER-plus was to be an umbrella, multilateral trade agreement between Australia and New Zealand (combined) with the 12 Pacific Island Countries, but it has now become an agreement for trade cooperation, 

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How a 1-week contest inspired farmers and boosted Solomons cocoa exports

TEN new farmers emerged as finalists at this year’s Solomon Islands Chocolate Week – a sign that more cocoa producers are becoming interested in producing quality cocoa. And according to the Solomon Islands Commodities Export Marketing Authority, the annual event has had a direct impact on the volume of cocoa beans exported to boutique chocolate markets by the Solomon Islands.

Held at the National Auditorium in Honiara from April 24-28, this year’s event was hailed as a success by stakeholders for its support of cocoa farmers and for facilitating new more profitable market opportunities for their quality cocoa.

The event was organised by the Australian and New Zealand-funded Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (*PHAMA) Program, Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) and Solomon Islands Rural Development Program (RDP), in collaboration with the Commodities Export Marketing Authority (CEMA) and Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL).

Through PHAMA’s support, chocolate makers from Australia, New Zealand, and the USA attended as judges. 

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The 33rd Australia Papua New Guinea Business Forum and Trade Expo was a bonus for local agricultural and handicraft producers seeking to promote their products and expand their networks. With support from the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA*) Program, local producers of coffee, coconut and cocoa occupied five of the 57 booths at the Trade Expo, with two of the booths dedicated to promoting Papua New Guinea handicrafts.

In addition to showcasing their products, the businesses interacted with around 400 delegates from Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand who were part of the two-day forum, as well as the many Port Moresby residents who visited the booths. Susan Bakani of Artisan Culture, who exhibited in the handicraft booth, said she met many visitors interested in her products and felt the expo had given her an opportunity to expand her network.

PHAMA’s support is part of its ongoing work to improve market access for Papua New Guinea industries which is in line with the Government of Papua New Guinea’s policy to promote agriculture...

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Pods of gold

New flavour offer for choco industry as Vanuatu cashes in

ON Malo Island in Vanuatu, Moli Lui observed in silence as the formalities of greetings and introductions took place to welcome a trade delegation of international cocoa buyers. When the theologian was finally invited to address the visitors, there was no mistaking the enthusiasm with which he spoke about his newfound interest in cocoa farming.

In the minutes that followed, Lui had impressed the buyers enough who, after sampling some of his dried cocoa beans, asked to purchase the sack of beans and have its contents divided among them. The trip to the island was part of a trade visit organised by the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (*PHAMA) Program which is funded by the Australian and New Zealand governments.

The visit aimed to establish trade relations between international cocoa buyers and local farmers, producers and exporters as well as government stakeholders in Vanuatu’s cocoa industry. The trade delegation comprised chocolate makers Greg D’Alesandre of Dandelion Chocolate in the United States of America, Karl Hogarth of Hogarth Chocolates in New Zealand, Peter Channells and Li Peng Monroe of Jasper and Myrtle in Australia and cocoa buyer Mathieu Bours from Le Cercle du Cacao in Belgium. 

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