27 Mar 2013

NZ firms told to look to emerging markets

8:48 am on 27 March 2013

The World Bank is pushing for more New Zealand firms to do business in emerging markets, saying it plans to spend $2.5 billion on climate change projects alone in the Asia-Pacific by 2016.

The bank's International Finance Corporation is holding an outreach event on Wednesday for New Zealand businesses working in energy, tourism and agribusiness, including smaller sized companies.

The IFC is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector.

Its vice president for the Asia Pacific, Karen Finkelston, who is in Auckland for the Pacific Energy Summit, says the organisation wants to partner with more New Zealand companies.

She says the opportunity across the emerging markets is growing.

Ms Finkelston says in areas like agribusiness, energy and tourism New Zealand businesses can contribute to what's happening in emerging markets and also benefit their shareholders and New Zealand.

She says there are opportunities with the growth in China and India for New Zealand to bring its private sector activities to other parts of the Asia region.

"I think what's key about investing with IFC is that we can provide equity capital but then we can also bring in other banks into the financing - we have 600 people on the ground around Asia and we're able to basically leverage our relationships across Asia to support our partner companies."

Ms Finkelston says the International Finance Corporation is trying to identify projects that are viable from a financial standpoint, as well as looking at its environmental and social aspects.

She says it's then necessary to look at the right risk share between private investors and, in the case of energy or infrastructure, what risks governments take.

Ms Finkelston says New Zealand firms have a big role to play in renewable energy in the Asia-Pacific, where nearly 400 million in India have no power and almost seven in 10 Pacific people have no access to electricity.

The renewable energy market in the developing world is worth $89 billion.