News 12 Jul 2018
Above: Sione Taufa (left) with fellow NZ Tongan Business Council member Leo Foliaki
As Chair of the New Zealand Tonga Business Council (NZTBC), Sione Taufa says the organisation is gearing up towards unprecedented engagement with the Kingdom.
“There are a number of successful Tongan businesspeople in New Zealand, and they generally prefer to focus on the local market in New Zealand and keep a low profile,” says Sione.
“But that’s changing. More of them based in New Zealand see opportunities in the Kingdom. Hopefully, after PACER Plus, there will be more businesses going to Tonga and vice versa.”
The closer ties are reflected with the Council potentially signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tongan Government, with a business mission planned to Tonga in August.
The nation is still recovering from the impact of Cyclone Gita in February, which devastated much of the main island of Tongatapu and Sione believes more help from New Zealand businesses is needed, particularly in relation to reconstruction.
“The quality of housing needs to be improved to ensure Tonga has greater cyclone resilience,” says Sione, who has been NZTBC chair for the past three years.
“There’s also the need to expand our capacity of renewable energy. It’s around 13% with the target being 100% by 2035.”
Sione says growing tourism numbers is are the forefront of growing Tonga’s economy.
“Our neighbours in Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands have all benefited from the rise in visitor numbers, so there is significant potential and opportunity for Tonga.”
The benefits of joining the New Zealand Tongan Business Council include:
• Joining a growing network of trade and Government contacts in Tonga and New Zealand
• Discovering new opportunities and receiving advice from businesses who have succeeded in Tonga
• Keeping informed of activities, including political and trade matters
• Leverage off the Council’s close relationship with Government in relation to matters such as taxation, investment, customs and quarantine requirements
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