“We’re very small and we have to be innovative. That’s where New Zealand businesses are very good because they’ve had to get smart and very cutting edge ” said Laumanuvao Winnie Laban.

Laban is a member of parliament and government representative of the New Zealand Pacific Mission trade mission on Guam from July 28 to 31. Guam was the final stop on a trip that began with Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

Exploring business opportunities and strengthening ties within the Pacific island community were the main goals of the New Zealand Trade Mission. The 40-person delegation of government officials and members of key industries like marine development construction engineering and food and beverages conducted a one-day trade show and met with Guam businesses to discuss mutual opportunities for New Zealand and Micronesia.

Laban who is the first government official from New Zealand to accompany a trade mission to Guam said because of her country’s diminitiveness New Zealand businesses have become very competitive in the global market. She said the New Zealand business community looks forward to increasing its presence in Guam. “Like Guam we’re small — and we’re having to think beyond the square more than we ever have because of competition ” she said.

The new approach has been successful for the New Zealand economy. “It’s going extremely well — a thriving private sector and also a creative commitment to growing innovation in biotechnology and IT and the creative arts.”

Companies took advantage of their time on Guam. For instance Bellingham Marine New Zealand Ltd. — which manufactures and installs floating docking systems and dry storage building for marinas and boat service facilities held meetings with Port of Guam officials. The mission also included The Logistics Group Ltd. an air and maritime service agent; Thirty Seven South Ltd. focused on watermakers for hotels and export of agricultural and fresh produce; Aluminium Systems which designs and distributes aluminium joinery extrusion; Baytex Manufacturing which designs and manufacturers commercial and rental theater tents shades and structures; Fletcher Aluminium a division of Fletcher Building Ltd.; Beca International Consultants a consulting engineering and planning services group; Campion & Irving/Portafuel Systems International Ltd. specializing in above-ground hazardous substance and fluid storage; Orica Mining Services a chemical manufacture and supply company; and Colin Carr Agencies Ltd. which represents manufacturers of uniforms and logistic items.

Laban said encouraging tourism was also part of the group’s mission.

“The other thing we wanted to do was to come and encourage people from Guam to come and visit ” she said. “We’re trying to encourage a greater flow. People go to Cairns but they don’t come to New Zealand.” Laban said tourism should be a two-way traffic. “It’s the spirit of us working together and trying to help each other.” The trade mission met Continental Micronesia.

John W. Scragg president and chief executive officer of JWS Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Ltd. coordinated the trip to Guam. He is honorary consul for the New Zealand Consulate in Guam and has lived on the island for more than 35 years. “This the first trade mission to Guam in 12 to 14 years ” he said “And the first to be fully endorsed by the government.”

The trade mission also met with Guam Chamber of Commerce representatives and government officials including Gov. Felix P. Camacho. Laban said “I said to your governor ‘What connects us is the biggest swimming pool in the world.’”

She said in line with globalization “More and more people are starting to reactivate those relationships and to really mutually support each other economically socially culturally and environmentally.”

Scragg said the event was also an opportunity to recognize New Zealand businesses that have been on Guam for a number of years. “There’s a longtime community of New Zealanders here ” he said “It’s great to see more Kiwis interested in coming to our area.”

Laban said the visit had been successful. “Our people have felt very at home here. Guam is part of the Pacific region and we see our relationship in terms of family kin and neighbors. We feel it’s important to strengthen our relationships within the region.” MBJ