This, it believes, will provide the best platform for exchange with international trade partners, given the many challenges that characterise business and entrepreneurship in individual countries in the region.
“Intra-regional trade, amongst our Island countries, should be seen as a 'stepping stone' and 'building block' to trading with international partners. Therefore, there is a need for Pacific businesses and traders to come under one roof to create business linkages and synergies between importers and exporters, in order to facilitate and grow trade and business in the region,” said Fiji's Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade Shaheen Ali in his welcome speech at Tuesday night's opening reception.
“This ties in with our theme - we have to make it our business to create growth through exports and trade - starting with trade amongst ourselves. At the same time, if we are able to come together to develop a 'common market', with harmonised customs rules, mutual agreements on biosecurity requirements and facilitation of trade in general, we will become a very attractive market of 9 million consumers for our trading partners,” Ali said.
For those who have been mooting the idea of trade integration in the Pacific, Trade Pasifika is by far the closest the region has come to having Pacific goods and services under one roof.
The inaugural Trade Pasifika was held in Fiji in 2012 with support from most regional organisations such as the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) among others.
This year's event - themed 'Exporting for Growth. It's everyone's business' - is only the second so far but has already proven popular among businesses in the region with 14 PICs and Territories represented.
Organisers say around 100 entrepreneurs from the 14 PICTs will showcase their goods and services during the three-day expo, up from the 50 that exhibited in 2012.
They will be matched with an equally keen interest from some 60 buyers who have come from as far China, Europe, Abu Dhabi and nearby markets Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific to see what businesses here
have to offer.
Link ups between buyers and sellers will take place within the margins of workshops and seminars, lunch and learn sessions and the general exhibition and there are expectations that new deals will be secured.
A highlight of this year's event is the focus on Youth Entrepreneurship and Women in Business and delegations from the region are predominantly made up of women.
The exhibitions begun on Wednesday at the Vodafone Arena in the Fijian capital Suva and key trade areas showcased are agriculture, aquaculture and tourism.
SUVA, (ISLANDS BUSINESS)