Visiting Minister seeks more investors, tourists

Venkat Raman

A well-educated workforce, youthful population, opportunities and incentives for investment and friendly government policies are the advantages available to New Zealand investors and businesses in Fiji, a visiting Minister has said.

Trade, Tourism, Industry, Local Government, Housing and Community Development Minister Premila Kumar was in Auckland this week to meet with government officials, private sector companies, members of the New Zealand-Fiji Business Council and others to promote her country as an attractive destination for New Zealanders.

Hub of the Pacific

Speaking at a Reception organised in her honour by the Sydney based Consul General and Trade Commissioner (Australia and New Zealand) Zarak Khan, at the Office of the New Zealand Trade & Enterprise on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, she outlined the potential available for investors and commercial enterprises.

“Fiji is the hub of the Pacific, the hub of communications, trade, investment, tourism and innovation. We established our Trade Commission in Auckland about a year ago in Auckland’s Central Business District, alongside major financial institutions, corporations and equally important, many Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs),” she said.

Describing SMEs as the backbone of the New Zealand economy, Ms Kumar said that they are a driving force behind the strong New Zealand-Fiji trade, investment and economic relationship.

“We are neighbours with businesses and investment partners who are strategically positioned to engage with each other for the benefit of both economies,” she said.

Earlier, Fiji Trade Commission New Zealand Manager Peter James Rudd introduced the Minister and spoke about the objectives of his Office in Auckland.

Increasing bilateral trade

Stating that New Zealand is among the top ten export destinations for Fiji over the past five years, Ms Kumar said that the two-way trade stood at F$ 992.2 million as at the end of 2017, with annual average exports at F$110 million.

“New Zealand has also been one of Fiji’s top five import markets. In 2017, the highest number of imports were from New Zealand, valued at F$858.1 million,” she said.

Ms Kumar said that her government has in place several ‘pro-growth policies’ and that the country has ‘very ambitious Fijians in all sectors launching new businesses.’

“Our Trade Commission in New Zealand is geared to provide entrepreneurs the confidence and opportunity to market their products across New Zealand and also launch their services in the New Zealand market. Our Office will continue to be an invaluable source of information and guidance to New Zealander investors as well as New Zealand visitors who visit Fiji every year,” she said.

Focus on Tourism

According to government statistics, about 200,000 New Zealanders visited Fiji in 2018, an increase of 7.7% over the previous year.

About 90% of these are repeat visitors and the government has plans to promote Fiji as a viable, alternate and good tourist destination in the coming years.

About the Trade Commission

Ms Kumar said that the Trade Commission will build on the enduring relationship between the two countries and create more exposure for ‘Fijian Made’ products and services, investments and Fiji as a business destination.

“The Trade Commission is making a significant impact for Fiji by showcasing and strengthening trade and investment relations with New Zealand. The Office has been working closely with stakeholders including our High Commission in Wellington, Industry, Trade and Tourism Ministry, Investment Fiji, New Zealand-Fiji Business Council, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, businesses and others,” she said.

Promotional Programmes

Mr Khan said that while his Office is actively promoting trade and investment from New Zealand into Fiji, a major event in May will have a special focus on the objective.

“We have scheduled a ‘Fiji Trade and Investment Roadshow’ in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in May 2019. Organised jointly by the Fiji Trade Commission and the New Zealand-Fiji Business Council, as well as the individual City Councils and Chambers of Commerce, the Minister will lead a mission of Fijian businesses and investment approval agencies at this event,” he said.

Ms Kumar said, “We have a story in Fiji that the world wants to hear: a modern, dynamic economy in the throes of rapid economic growth and infrastructure development. We are a nation investing heavily in the education of its citizens and fielding a highly competitive, English-speaking workforce  We are also a nation that enjoys stability, security and unity among its people and a nation eager for new investment, new industry and new opportunity.”

Christchurch massacre victims

Earlier, Ms Kumar extended her condolences to the families of the victims of the Christchurch massacre on Friday, March 15, 2019.

“The Fijian Government strongly condemns this abhorrent act of terror against a peaceful community and reaffirms our shared beliefs in multiculturalism, tolerance, love and respect for one another irrespective of race, religion, gender and creed. It is a profoundly sad tragedy and as a nation, Fiji offers its prayers and support to all Kiwis and the Government of New Zealand at this difficult time,” she said.

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