‘Integrated hub’

Ministry of Industry, Trade & Tourism permanent secretary Shaheen Ali, shares a light moment with Mercour-Asean Chamber of Commerce vice president Alfredo Amigorena and Ambassdor of Argentina to Fiji Hugo Javier Gobbi, right, during the Investment Fiji Mercour-Asean Chamber of Commerce Tade and Technical Mission conference at the Holiday Inn in Suva on Monday, 17 June, 2019. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

FIJI is the integrated hub for economic development in the Pacific and proves to be a great market choice for international investors.

The permanent secretary for the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Shaheen Ali, highlighted this at the opening of the MERCOSUR-ASEAN Chamber of Commerce (MACC) Trade and Technical Mission to Fiji at the Holiday Inn Suva yesterday.

“Amidst changing landscape, Fiji has emerged as a dynamic country in the region with a record of nine straight (years of) economic growths and we expect this year our GDP to grow by 2.7 per cent and this will make it ten straight years of growth,” he said.

Mr Ali also mentioned the 2019-2020 National Budget had laid out a blueprint for the second revolution of Fiji’s economic development.

The continuation of the “Bainimarama Boom”, according to the permanent secretary, was fuelling technology and innovation as one of the fundamental pillars of this revolution.

He said the transformation of the country’s economic growth had also come with unprecedented benefits and opportunities.

“This has created many opportunities including investment, trade, economic partnerships and has created new jobs as well as development of our infrastructure.

“We have been able to capitalise on the opportunities by creating a very conducive environment for business and investment which is supported by favourable market conditions and a very skilled and educated work force,” he said.

Mr Ali said the ministry recognised that the MERCOSUR-ASEAN regions were emerging as new global powerhouses.

MACC comprehends trade opportunities between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela) regions.

“The presence of the MERCOSUR-ASEAN Chamber of Commerce today reaffirms our status in the Pacific as the conduit to the region,” he said.

He said Argentina, Thailand, Santiago and Singapore were some of the economic hubs which contributed significantly to the global economy.

“Fiji would like to encourage these countries to invest in some of our targeted sectors and also reap the benefits of our progress,” added Mr Ali.

Investments in Fiji also meant opportunities to access the greater Pacific despite its geographical distance.

Mr Ali said the Pacific region accounted for 21 per cent of Fiji’s total exports in 2018 while Australia and New Zealand accounted for 19 per cent.

“Altogether, the Oceania region accounted for 41 per cent of our total exports which continues to grow year over year.

“Through our trade agreements with the Pacific, that is, MSG Trade Agreement and PICTA, there is preferential access into a regional market of over 10 million people. While SPARTECA and Developing Countries Preferential Scheme provides Fiji duty-free access to the Australian and New Zealand markets, which means another 29 million consumers,” he said.

With foreign direct investment contributing significantly to the overall investments in Fiji, Mr Ali said investor confidence remains high.

According to him, investments contribute to about 25 per cent of the GDP, with the private sector making about 20 per cent of that.

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