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In November 2012, New Caledonia opened its first overseas diplomatic representation housed in the French Embassy in Wellington. The opening of the New Caledonia Delegation in New Zealand (the Delegation), and the appointment of Dr Yves LAFOY as its “Official Representative”, are the outcomes of a 2012 agreement signed between France and New Caledonia, paving the way for New Caledonia to establish its own Diplomatic network within the Pacific region.
The role of Delegation is two-fold:
- Bilateral: to reinforce political dialogue between New Caledonia and New Zealand,
and to grow cooperation in the fields of economy and trade, culture and education, and science and innovation;
- Multilateral: to oversee New Caledonia’s role and activities with the Pacific Islands Forum and its member countries.
Between 2013 and 2015, the Delegation has coordinated 27 visits of New Caledonian or New Zealand representatives visiting the other country, and participated in 17 trade-related events organised by the following institutions:
- the French New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (FNZCCI),
- the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE),
- the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs (NZIIA),
- the Pacific Exporters Network (PEN),
- the Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF),
- the New Zealand Pacific Bureau Council (NZPBC),
- the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC).
In 2014 and 2015, the Delegation released two important documents:
- an assessment of trade relations between New Caledonia and New Zealand: creation of a dedicated Database,
- a Business Intelligence report on the Christchurch market: opportunities for French and New Caledonian businesses.
For 2016, in terms of trade, the Delegation will contribute to:
- supporting New Caledonia’s companies in their attempts to prospect the New Zealand
- facilitating the development of "joint ventures" between New Caledonia and New Zealand companies, together with enhancing skills transfer and investments in New Caledonia;
- promoting New Caledonia as a an attractive touristic destination.
New Caledonia is among the wealthiest nation in the Pacific, its GDP per capita being ranked third in 2013 after Australia and New Zealand. New Caledonia benefits from extensive nickel resources and reserves (currently the 6th world producer, holding about 25% of the world reserves), and from significant financial transfers from France (16 to 18% of NC’s GDP).
New Zealand’s closest neighbor, New Caledonia represents a potential stepping stone into France and the European Union markets.
Other than nickel resources which represent 90% of New Caledonia’s exports, an EU-funded study on the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) exports has identified the following New Caledonian products as having export potential to Pacific Island countries or Australia and New Zealand
1) Wood composite decking and fencing (the wood composite uses recycled wood flour coming from saw mills);
2) Tunnels and soiless crop systems suitable for small farms. Some exports to Vanuatu in 2012 and Wallis and Futuna in 2014;
3) PVC lining system for many applications like ceilings, interior linings. Export to New Zealand was realised in 2015.
4) Solar water heater. This product is already exported to Australia and French OCT's.
Attempted export to Fiji in 2013
5) Manufactured agriculture products for delicatessen niche markets (jams, vanilla,
achards (pickles vegetables) and cooked chili pepper).