Seven members of the business community across the region have been selected for a business peer-to-peer exchange programme in Mauritius this month.
Pacific Islands Forum Director of Programmes & Initiatives, Zarak Khan, says the participants will look at enhancing business opportunities between the Pacific Islands and Mauritius, and at the policy and regulatory frameworks of other successful global partners.
With a focus on the fishing sector, delegates from Fiji, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, and Samoa will learn from their Mauritian counterparts. Fisheries exports accounted for about 19% of Mauritius’ national exports in 2019.
The participants include Solomon Islands powerhouse, SolTuna. General Manager, Jim Alexander, says: “We currently export tuna oil to a company in Mauritius, and there are other business possibilities as well to improve our product. This programme opens an opportunity for SolTuna to open a new export market in Mauritius or with distributors in Mauritius working in Africa.
“SolTuna provides significant export income for the Solomon Islands. Any increase in exports is a plus,” he says.
Meanwhile in Samoa, another participant, Tui Pacific Company operations officer Victor Va’ai, stressed that importance of the sector in his country.
“Fishing in Samoa is not only important commercially but socially as well. Families live off fish. Also, around 30% of Samoa’s export is fish, so it plays a massive part in Samoan lives.”
Va’ai believes that Samoa has the potential to become the Pacific’s main fishing port, but the lack of focus to develop and build, is a gap that he hopes can be filled in the future.
“I believe this programme is crucial, as Samoa wants to expand its port and fishing industry, so building this relationship with our neighbouring countries is crucial to the development of our future endeavours,” he said.
“I hope to learn more about other countries and how their operations successfully operate, as well as understand the fishing industry across the region and the world.”
Meanwhile Vanuatu’s rep to the program, Derek French, who is the Founding Partner of Aore Aquaculture Limited, is more focused on sea cucumber breeding.
“I hope to learn the best practices for sea cucumber preparation and processing.” French said, “This will be vital for our success in exporting and gaining the best financial return for our products, which in turn will show Vanuatu as the leader in this field.”