Pacific businesses invited to leverage off Commonwealth Games

Collaboration could be the key for Pacific businesses to leverage opportunities arising from the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games next April.

The idea amongst others was raised at the Trade 2018 GC2018 briefing held by representatives from the Office of the Commonwealth Games, Queensland Government, Lisa Ward and Yasmahne Hanel for invited guests at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland last week.

Ms Ward and Ms Hanel visited Pacific Trade Invest New Zealand’s Trade Commissioner Michael Greenslade who was invited to be part of a 3-person panel at the Trade 2018 GC2018; a trade and investment opportunity briefing. The event was held in association with the Trans-Tasman Business Circle chaired by Sir Jim McLay.   Murray McCully was the guest speaker before an audience of about 70 guests from New Zealand companies and Pacific organisations.

The panel discussion focused on how the Pacific can leverage off the upcoming Commonwealth Games during Trade 2018 – a 14-day trade and investment programme developed by the Queensland Government in partnership with the City of Gold Coast timed to coincide with the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games from 3-16 April.

Trade 2018 starts on April 3 and includes a series of business events held during the Commonwealth Game in the Gold Coast and Brisbane. Day 1 starts with a Business Leader Welcome Reception at Commonwealth House.   The programme also includes events such as The Commonwealth Business Advantages and Opportunities in the Gold Coast to a Food and Agribusiness Buyers Program in Brisbane as well as site visits. But the focus for Pacific businesses is the ‘Explore Businesses Across the Commonwealth’ from 11-14 April. That event includes ASEAN Nations, India’s Accent, Canada Connect and Partnering with the Pacific.

Fran O’Sullivan, Managing Director of NZ Inc moderated the panel of Craig Strong, Chief Executive of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation, Kereyn Smith, Chief Executive Officer and Secretary General of the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

The statistics for the GC2018 Commonwealth Games provides an eyewatering opportunity for businesses. With more than 6,600 athletes and teams from 70-member nations and territories, of more than 672,000 visitors, over 15,000 volunteers and 1.5 million spectators not to mention a TV audience of 1.5 billion GC 2018 promises to be an extravaganza of epic proportions.

Collaboration was a recurring theme from the panel discussions. Mr Greenslade said there were seven New Zealand Pacific island business councils of which five were members of the Commonwealth.

The Games provided a unique platform to bring things together. There was a common language and focus allowing for more commonality between countries. There was an opportunity to “network and connect and take ourselves to the world,” Mr Greenslade said.

Sports had long been a driver a driver for events, but how to lift the capability of the Pacific nations to take advantage of such big events. The Commonwealth Games was important because it gave athletes from the Pacific access to the highest levels of sporting performance.

It was suggested the Pacific had to start thinking about sport as a business. With several Pacific athletes already competing in top level sports – how could the Pacific also translate their sporting successes into financial success outside the sporting arena and ensure the benefits were ongoing after sports.

PTI NZ and the Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) are hosting a working group to look at this opportunity on Friday and this may include a business mission from the Pacific to the Gold Coast during the Games.

Ms Smith said the GC Commonwealth Games had provided a benchmark reinforcing the direction set by Glasgow 2014. Queensland had used a mix of new and existing venues being used and several events scheduled for Townsville and Brisbane. It was a model that could be translated to other Commonwealth countries. Ms Smith saw the future consolidation of those trends as an event relevant to the future. Other events could be added such as a League 9s or cricket to make it a sporting event with a Commonwealth flavour.

A detailed study could also look at New Zealand hosting a Commonwealth Games centred in Auckland but inclusive of other cities such as Christchurch and Wellington. With the America’s Cup and APEC 2021 in New Zealand, the opportunity was there to explore.

With less than 120 days to go before the Commonwealth Games commences, the event looks set to be a cracker for businesses wanting to take up the opportunity of showcasing at Trade 2018.


Photo file PTI. Caption: Pacific businesses at an exhibition in New Zealand