Opening Remarks at the MERCOSUR-ASEAN Chamber of Commerce (MACC) Trade and Technical Mission To Fiji

17 Jun, 2019

17 JULY 2019, 10AM

H.E Mr Hugo Gobbi, Ambassador of Argentina to Fiji,
Mr Alfredo Amigorena, Vice President of the MERCOSUR-ASEAN Chamber of Commerce,
Mr Edgar J. Flores Tiravanti, Minister for Embassy of Argentina to the Republic of Fiji

Delegates of the Trade and Technical Mission,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

It is a pleasure to inaugurate the first Trade and Technical Mission to Fiji by the MERCOSUR-ASEAN1 Chamber of Commerce.
I take this opportunity to welcome you all to Fiji.

I am delighted to see the number of expertise present in this room, especially the private sector representatives, taking part in this Forum. This demonstrates the strong interest of the two regions in Fiji.

I hope that all of you will have a pleasant stay in Fiji and have the opportunity to visit places of interest, as well as, learn more about our country and its people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Amidst the changing international landscape, Fiji has emerged as a country of dynamic growth in the Region, with a record nine straight years of economic growth. We expect the GDP to grow by 2.7% this year, making it the tenth straight years of growth.

On 7 June, the Fijian Government announced its National Budget for 2019-2020 financial year. The budget laid the blueprint for the second revolution of Fiji’s economic development or the continuation of the “Bainimarama Boom”, fuelled by spurring technology and innovation as one of the fundamental pillars.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Fiji is no longer an isolated island economy but an integrated hub of economic development. And the presence of the MERCOSUR-ASEAN Chamber of Commerce here today, reaffirms our status in the Pacific.

The transformation has brought about unprecedented benefits for our country. This has created investment opportunities, trade and economic partnerships, created new jobs and development of our infrastructure.

We have been able to capitalise on the opportunities, by creating a conducive environment for investment, which is supported by favourable market conditions and an educated and skilled workforce.

Similarly, many countries in the MERCOSUR-ASEAN regions are emerging economic powerhouses. From Argentina to Thailand, or Santiago to Singapore, these economic hubs are contributing significantly in shaping the global economy. And Fiji, would like to encourage these powerhouses to invest in targeted sectors to also reap benefits from our progress.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Despite our geographical distance, there is tremendous opportunities that exist in Fiji for your countries to tap into. Investing in Fiji means access to the greater Pacific Region.

The Pacific region accounted for 21% of Fiji’s total exports in 2018, whilst Australia and New Zealand accounted for 19%. Altogether, the Oceania region accounted for 41% of Fiji’s total exports, which continues to grow over the years.

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. Whilst SPARTECA and Developing Countries Preferential Scheme, provides Fiji duty free access to the Australian and New Zealand markets, which means another 29 million consumers.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Foreign direct investments contribute significantly to overall investments in Fiji, which means that investor confidence remains high. Investments contribute approximately 25% of the GDP, with private sector investment making up approx. 20%.

Fiji provides the best investment incentives in the region and compares competitively at the global level. We have the lowest corporate taxes, streamlined income tax and the ability to get a maximum of 20-year tax free status (depending on investment amount).
Above all, Fiji has a highly talented English-speaking workforce, which is vital in any ideal working environment.

We also have tax free regions across Viti Levu and many of our maritime areas. Even in manufacturing, there remains a lot of untapped potential. And to encourage linkages with the domestic industries, we are offering tax exemptions and deductions across various industries, particularly in commercial agriculture and agro-processing.

In addition to the incentives available, the 2019-2020 National Budget will introduce new tax incentives for investments in waste management, warehousing and storage and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Furthermore, we are also establishing a Services and Manufacturing Zone in the Western side of the main island. This Zone will not only provide “plug and play” facilities for investors, but will provide tailor-made incentives.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our networks of telecommunications are reliable and strong. In certain zones in the country, we are offering a ten-year tax holiday for ICT operators, and tax holidays for ICT accredited training institutions and for companies working in app design and software development.

You will learn during your stay that the Fijian Government’s focus is on sustainable development. Therefore, we are looking for investments in green technology, green and light manufacturing, services, such as Business Process Outsourcing, to name a few.

It would be remiss of me, if I left out our most important sector, which is tourism. Tourism alone contributes over 30% to the GDP. Fiji is renowned for its pristine and unspoilt environment and clear blue seas. But we have a lot more to offer then just “sun, sea and surf”. Fiji has the capacity to host international events and meetings, and other niche segments include, sports tourism and eco-tourism, spa and health-tourism.

So there are many opportunities that are available in a number of sectors that you can explore.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before I finish, I want to highlight a few reforms that are being undertaken to create the necessary enablers for investments. We are reviewing the current investment laws to be able to better respond to the needs of the investors and create a modern investment climate. In addition to this, the Ministry has undertaken reforms for doing business in Fiji. We are working in consultation with the Singaporean Government to review, redesign and harmonise building permits process and starting a business process. Next month we will launch an online information portal, which will provide all information in relation to building permits and starting up a business.

A number of reforms at the border are also being implemented to enable easier cross-border trade. The Honourable Prime Minister, recently commissioned the Non-Intrusive Inspection X-Ray Technology at the Suva Port. The technology will be used for risk profiling shipments coming into Fiji, which will not only address border security issues but also facilitate faster clearance of goods.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Ladies and gentlemen, I encourage you to see for yourselves just how rapidly our nation is stepping into the 21st Century. Realise the opportunity that exist in our dynamic economy. See how we are forging new partnerships and entering new markets in the Pacific and throughout the world. And witness the solid foundation we have placed to keep our economy resilient and growing.

The Fijian people are ready to work with you to build better partnerships and to make our nations stronger and more prosperous in years to come. I take this opportunity to thank you all for your interest in working with Fiji. I wish you success in your Mission here.

Vinaka vakalevu, thank you.

Shaheen Ali
Permanent Secretary for Industry, Trade and Tourism