A handshake agreement between two key Pacific economic organisations that will exchange “ideas, expertise, information and resources” is set to exponentially benefit the Cook Islands.
The monetary worth to the associated state of New Zealand to whom the Cook Islands traditionally have deeper ties with than Australia could be worth potentially millions of dollars each year to an economy whose GDP sits around $385 million annually.
But the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce and the Australia Pacific Islands Business Council will focus on building a more long-term structural relationship between businesses of the two nations.
Australian Pacific Islands Business Council executive director Frank Yourn said its “value will be proven over time”.
“As borders re-open, business travel can occur, and business-to-business meetings can take place, which the council plans to facilitate in collaboration with its members and others,” Mr Yourn said.
Under the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus trade deal that is designed to support Pacific islands countries to become more active partners in – and benefit from – regional and global trade, there will be new opportunities for business entrepreneurs to develop investment and an increase of joint venture opportunities to assist the growth of Cook Islands business.
The council says creating pathways for greater collaboration is consistent with a commitment to not only support its “blue and green Pacific policy” but closer Australian business relations with all island nations through sustainable resilient infrastructure development and related capacity building in local businesses.
Tourism has previously accounted for more than 40 per cent of dollars coming into the Cook Islands.
But aquaculture is expected to be the biggest industry to benefit from the creation of new synergies.
The agreement that will contribute to the post-Covid recovery in the Cook Islands recognises the common goal of both parties to support and promote “inclusive economic development” and also employment growth in Cook Islands.
Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce chair Fletcher Melvin was pleased to agree to the historic signing for the “wider Cook Islands business community in general”.
“The Australia Pacific Islands Business Council is a respected organisation with a 21-year history of building effective business relationships between Australia and its Pacific neighbours,” Mr Melvin said.