News 3 Aug 2018
As Chair of the New Zealand Samoa Trade and Investment Commission (NZSTIC), Frank Po Ching knows there are some advantages to representing a small Pacific island nation.
“A point of difference for our organisation is that we have direct access to talk to Government Ministers,” says Frank, who hails from the Samoan village of Vaiala.
“The Samoan Prime Minister (Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi) came to New Zealand for the launch of the Commission in 2011, together with the then Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, and he recognises the special relationship between our two countries.”
Frank was an executive member of the New Zealand Papua New Guinea Council where his company 3 Seven Group Ltd was involved in business. With family connections to Samoa, he was encouraged to join NZSTIC through Samoa Trade Commissioner Fonoti Dr Lafitai Fuatai, who completed his term as Commissioner in March.
“Fonoti encouraged me to be part of the council, and while I had no direct business interests, my motivation was to help out where I can,” he says.
The Commission’s key objective is to facilitate, strengthen and increase the flow of trade and investment between Samoa and New Zealand, with exporting more to New Zealand a priority.
There are gains being made in agriculture, with an ongoing development of gluten-free flour from breadfruit. Staple crops such as taro are also picking up, although Frank says there are still quarantine issues that need improving.
“We need to work closely with MAF (Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry) as there are still lengthy quarantine issues which need to improve, because the value of the produce decreases by the time it’s available to the consumer,” says Frank.
But he has been encouraged by the progress in the education sector, having been part of the NZSTIC Trade Mission to Samoa last year. With the relatively small scale to work with, Frank witnessed effective collaborations among the education providers.
“They started to work together on a few initiatives, which has got to be a good sign,” he says.
“They all operate in different markets, but it was great to see them looking at the gaps that existed and how to fill them. Providing opportunities for such facilitation makes being a part of NZSTIC all worthwhile.”
The New Zealand Samoa Trade & Investment Commission was established with the key objective of facilitating, strengthening and increasing the flow of trade and investment between New Zealand and Samoa.
Its Mission is to provide leadership, in facilitating and promoting trade and investment between New Zealand and Samoa through the development of partnerships, ideas and goodwill.