NZ mentors for Pacific business leaders

Pacific Island business leaders will be getting advice from New Zealanders under a new mentoring programme announced today.

Prime Minister John Key announced the Pacific Business Mentoring Programme from the Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns this morning.

Such a programme was "especially important" in the current economic environment, Key said.

The programme will be funded by NZAid and would cost "hundreds of thousands, but certainly not millions", he said.

The mentors would be paid and it was likely lots of New Zealanders would be "willing to put their hand up and help small, budding businesses".

"Who wouldn't want to help people who are really trying to do their best to grow an income or a revenue for their families."

The programme was intended to help Pacific businesses identify training needs, create opportunities for partnerships and increase exports to New Zealand.

It should be running by the end of the year.

"It's all part of the economic development assistance we want to provide to Pacific countries.

"There's a wealth of experience in New Zealand."

At the Forum leaders' retreat today the PACER Plus (Pacific Agreement Closer Economic Relations) would be discussed and progressed, Key told reporters.

He said the agreement would also help business in the Pacific, despite some concerns by Pacific Island countries.

PACER Plus will provide the trade architecture for the region but it was also important to "make that architecture worth something" with a base of sustainable economic development.

"I think you'll see a robust discussion about economic development in the region."

- NZPA

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