Category : News
Author: Christine Rovoi

Fiji is seeking to improve trade relations with New Zealand after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern secured a historic free trade deal with the European Union this week which will see NZ exports rise by $1.8 billion a year.

The Fijian government said trade of goods with New Zealand had declined by 9.3%, falling to $735 million in 2021 because of Covid-19.

Prior to the pandemic, two-way trade was worth $812m, Fiji’s Trade Minister Faiyaz Koya said. In 2018, it was $1.17b.

Koya said that 6.5% of Fiji exports go to New Zealand ($162m), largely underpinned by fresh produce, pharmaceutical products, textile clothing, taro and kava.

Fijian President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, left, meets Fiji-New Zealand Business Council president Renu Chand and New Zealand high commissioner to Fiji, Charlotte Darlow, right.

China had planned to expand security and economic co-operation, with Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi visiting 10 Pacific nations last month. New Zealand, Australia and the United States called Wang’s tour a thinly veiled effort to lock the Pacific Island nations into "Beijing's orbit".

China managed to convince the Solomon Islands with a security deal, but has since removed contentious aspects of its broader economic and defence agreement for the Pacific.

According to New Zealand’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Fiji is NZ’s largest Pacific trading partner, and the only country in the region to rank among Aotearoa’s top 20 trading partners.

Addressing the New Zealand-Fiji Business Council meeting in Nadi this week, Fijian President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere said more than 5000 companies have recorded trade with New Zealand in the past five years.

He said there was an opportunity for the two countries to expand into new, lucrative crops and find ways to value-add to the high quality agricultural goods that Fijian farmers produce.

Ratu Wiliame is calling on New Zealand to support projects that will assist farmers in Fiji with technical expertise and export marketing resources.

The NZ-Fiji Business Council was established in 1987 and has more than 200 members.

The five-day meeting had generated a lot of attention from prospective New Zealand investors, which would contribute towards the Fijian economy and create new job opportunities post-pandemic, Ratu Wiliame said.


“The council, true to its purpose to promote friendship, goodwill and understanding between the business communities, continues to facilitate business relationships as well as people-to-people interactions to stimulate domestic and international trade.”

More than 30 delegates from Aotearoa explored Fiji’s investment and trade environment during the event, through B2B engagements, local companies and various government bodies.

Business council president Chandar Sen said the Trade and Recovery New Zealand Business delegation received fair knowledge of the processes involved in setting up business in Fiji.

"Fiji has a lot to offer, especially post-pandemic, and this mission was the perfect opportunity to showcase the potential to New Zealand businesses.”

The business council meeting also allowed Investment Fiji to forge greater ties with New Zealand in planning future projects, Sen said.

Investment Fiji chief executive Kamal Chetty said, despite the economic challenges, there is still a lot of interest in Fiji’s overall investment environment.

"There were a lot of inquiries about the processes involved in setting up a business in Fiji and a lot of avid potential investors who are keen to invest in Fiji,” he said.

"A total of 90 B2B meetings took place in which these delegates were able to build connections and possibly find new clients and/or potential co-operation partners.”

Chetty said there was a lot of excitement since the reopening of Fiji’s international borders in December.

New Zealand was Fiji’s second-largest tourist market pre-Covid, with more than 200,000 Kiwis visiting Fiji in 2019, Koya said.

“Visitor arrivals from NZ had declined by 97.9% to 532 visitors in 2020, and tourism earnings declined by 91.22% to $0.4 million, respectively,” he said.

Since New Zealand reopened its borders in April this year, 19,169 Kiwis have travelled to Fiji.


Note from Nighthawk.NZ:

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