‘I see opportunities for the Pacific to invest in Queensland’

Jun 23, 2023 | Blog, Cook Islands, News, Pacific, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga

Leata Alaimoana is Queensland’s Trade Commissioner for the Pacific. A highly accomplished executive with broad expertise in leadership, executive management, project delivery, and government relations, both in Australia and internationally. Leata has demonstrated her capabilities in the public and private sectors, excelling in forging successful joint ventures and partnerships.

Leata’s career began with the Queensland Department of State Development in 2002, where she progressed from an administration trainee to leading and managing the Aviation and Aerospace sector. After leaving the Queensland Government in 2010, she served as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development in Samoa, assisting the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the Samoa Government in aviation policy and business development.

Leata Alaimoana

Leata delivering a speech at the 12th Solomon Islands Business Forum in Brisbane in April.

Back in Australia, Leata joined the Sunshine Coast City Council to drive investment attraction, particularly in the transition of Sunshine Coast Airport into an international hub. Leata then contributed to Aviation Australia, spearheading the development of their Aerospace Gateway Schools program and leading their International Business Development Unit, including establishing an Aviation Australia presence in Fiji to support the Pacific Islands.

Leata subsequently rejoined the Queensland Government to attract the Qantas Dreamliner project to Brisbane, achieving success in 2017. Following this, she was appointed to lead Impact Investment for the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat under the Pacific Trade Invest Australia office in Sydney. In this role, Leata facilitated over $33 million in investments across the Pacific Islands.

As a non-executive Director on the Boards of Good Return and Exemplar International Development, Leata further utilises her expertise. Additionally, she is accredited as a Samoan interpreter/translator by NAATI. With her extensive experience in trade, investment, and aviation, Leata has proven her ability to generate impactful results and cultivate strong partner relationships.

In this email interview with Australia Pacific Business connections, Leata talks about role as Queensland Trade Commissioner for the Pacific and her plans for enhancing business and investment between Queensland and Pacific Island countries.

Queensland has had an active trade relationship with the Pacific Islands region for some time now. Now that it has its first dedicated Pacific Trade Commissioner in yourself, how will this relationship look going forward?

The Queensland Government’s new Pacific Trade Strategy presents opportunities to unlock economic partnerships and engagements to improve economies and lifestyles across the region.

Queensland being geographically closer to the better resourced and more populous part of the islands region – Melanesia –  a bulk of its trade must traditionally come from Melanesian countries. Given your vast experience in the Pacific Islands region as a whole, will Qld look at Polynesia proactively?

Yes, we will. There are great opportunities not only in Melanesian but Polynesia too and we commit to this by appointing new Business Development Managers in Papua New Guinea and New Zealand to help cover all Pacifica.

Which are the product/services sectors and markets that you propose to prioritise in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia? 

Agribusiness, resources, renewable energy and services – sectors Queensland has strengths in and capability and from feedback with our consultations throughout the region.

You bring along considerable investment experience. Could we expect to see increased investment from Qld into the islands region? Into what potential sectors? 

I certainly hope so, there are opportunities in resources, agribusiness, manufacturing and impact investments. I also see opportunities for the Pacific to invest in Queensland as more and more Pacific Island investors are looking to diversify their portfolios and existing Queensland businesses growing across the region in more than one country.

The Pacific region also provides manpower in growing numbers to the agribusiness and services sector in Queensland and further afield. Will your work involve this aspect of the relationship with the islands? If yes, how so?

We will work with our colleagues in DAF when needed; however our focus is on trade and investment. We will continue our close relationships with our Pacific Island diplomatic corps in Australia.

How would you approach the issue of the trade imbalance between the Islands and Australia (Queensland in particular)?

We will work together with key stakeholders and allies in leveraging trade opportunities both ways.

How do you propose to leverage the provisions of PACER Plus with the countries that have ratified it so far?

Working closely with our allies at Pacer Plus when their programs can be utilised by our Queensland Companies and those Pacific Island companies looking to trade with Queensland. We will also leverage existing and diaspora networks as well.