The Vuvale Partnership that Fiji shares with Australia is more than just a piece of paper, says Australian High Commission charge d’Affaires, John Williams.
At a joint business council forum for Australia and New Zealand, he commended the high level of interest in commercial opportunities between the two countries after two years of border closures and significant economic upheaval.
“For Australia, the Vuvale Partnership is not just a document or political symbolism about family,” Mr Williams said at InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, Natadola.
“It’s of much greater institutional value; a set of principles to guide how our two countries should work together in a genuine partnership of equals — as Vuvale.”
“And it speaks to the greater ambition we can achieve, if we are true to these principles, in the depth and breadth of our links across government, in business, in peacekeeping, security and disaster response, in our cooperation on regional and global challenges like climate change, and in education.”
“My point is that while Vuvale is relatively new and often spoken about as a turning point, in reality, it seeks to build on the momentum of years of work on both sides to revitalise Fiji-Australia relations.”
The Vuvale Partnership withstood the test of the past few years, Mr Williams said.
“A common element through each of these crises was the willingness of Fiji and Australia to support each other, a fundamental principle of our Vuvale Partnership.”
Next For Vuvale Partnership
The partnership needed a lot to build on, through momentum and activity, to achieve greater ambition, Mr Williams said.
“It’s vital that the Government recognises the need to work closely with business, and other partners, to deliver on this,” he said.
“While government-initiated, the Vuvale Partnership encompassed a larger system of relationships,” Mr Williams said.
“Connections made through business, the networks made in this room, our sporting rivalries, the deep historical connections among our faith leaders,” he said.
“In our view, the values of Vuvale – trustworthy relationships underpinned by respect and understanding – are the foundation for closer, more productive connections across all sectors.”
“Business is in many cases ahead of the government on this.”
“Australia would continue to work with its partners across Fiji to deepen connections in a way that upheld the values of the Vuvale Partnership,” Mr Williams said.
“Australia’s cooperation with Fiji in security and disaster response is an excellent case in point.
“We’re very much genuine partners now across a busy security agenda.”
Climate change is a central dimension of the Vuvale cooperation, Mr Williams said.
“Fiji’s leadership on this issue over many years, as a powerful voice for the Pacific, is now balanced by an Australian Government committed to greater ambition at home and in global climate talks,” he said.
“We will do more to support climate mitigation and adaptation in Fiji and across the Pacific, and more actively support global efforts to address global warming.”
Global Economic Headwinds And New Opportunities
“Global inflation – which the Reserve Bank of Australia expected – would peak later and higher than previously thought – producing rapid tightening of monetary policy, inhibiting access to finance and contributing to a global downturn,” Mr Williams said.
“The economic fundamentals for Australia and Fiji look very sound, suggesting new opportunities for The Vuvale Partnership that for savvy investors,” he said.