What is holding back Samoa exports
Biosecurity, climate change and access to finance are among the most common obstacles for Samoan exports.
So says the Samoa Association of Manufacturers & Exporters (S.A.M.E.) President, Tagaloa Eddie Wilson.
Samoa’s Exports represent less than 10% of its imports and its domestic exports are currently in excess of $90 million on an annual basis.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (M.C.I.L.), Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling, said Samoan exports have to adjust to the standards of biosecurity requirements.
“There are biosecurity issues which are changing all the time from the importing countries,” he said.
He added that the burden goes back to private sector as well as Government trying to negotiate.
“The worst scenario is some of our export containers will be stranded overseas and by the time it completes the process the goods in the containers become very bad.
“We also need to go with the global market and the flow of things, diversification, and value addition is what needs to be improved.
“We need to transform it into an acceptable commodity.”
Tagaloa said that the latest listing for the whole of last year in terms of Samoan exports, the top five commodities are: fish, nonu, coconut and taro, beer, and cocoa and kava coming through.
Water and garments are also being exported.
“The major challenge is that the world does not stay still, it is forever revolving, risks and all that are always coming in," he said.
“Back in the late 90s kava was the second largest export and there was a trade barrier restriction and that went out the window.
“The nonu industry is also facing some challenges at the moment because of the Asian influence but S.A.M.E. and farmer organisations and the Nonu industry are working together in higher added value commodities.”
The S.A.M.E. president added that the taro industry is in high demand yet Samoa is not able to meet the supply.
“Cocoa is still in limited supplies; access to finance has always been the major challenges both the supply and export side.
“Another challenge is climate change in reference to cyclones but opportunities are there regional and inter-regional trading and in the event we have a cyclone our major industries can buy from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Vanuatu.
“The demand for Samoan cocoa is very huge which is why we are signing up contracts in Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea to export to the European and Asian countries.”
Tagaloa said that there is huge potential for nonu, at the moment Samoa is the largest nonu producing and exporting country in the pacific.
“Instead of going to a different country and collect someone else’s apples they should collect their own cocoa beans.
“A lot of Asian countries are now buying from the pacific and as a result the trading in the pacific and global market is increased and fortunately Samoa is involved in that chain.”