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Fiji strengthens ties with Australia

Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad has explained how the $450 million budget support from the Australian government has been utilized.

Prasad says the funding from Fiji’s Vuvale Partnership will be used for key development projects, with a particular emphasis on the health sector in the new fiscal year.

He adds that the funding will enable the government to fulfill its commitment to the people.

“The budget support program from Australia and other development partners has immensely contributed to the achievement of various government initiatives and programs related to enhancing climate change, disaster, and social resilience, promoting private sector-led economic recovery and growth, and strengthening debt and public financial management.”

The Deputy Prime Minister says that the support from the Australian government has allowed the government to fund its relevant programs.

Prasad highlights that approximately $87 million has been used for policy reforms.

“In addition, Australia had provided around 15 million dollars for the rehabilitation of the CWM hospital, and around 9 million dollars was the Fiji Rural Electrification Fund. The provision of approximately 56 million dollars in grant funding support for the Fiji Cyclone Disaster Recovery Program.”

The Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Ewen McDonald, says the money was released after careful consultations.

“We spend a lot of time discussing your portfolio, your finance portfolio, and we’re very pleased to support the Fiji Government with its finance strategy, and you can be assured of that continued success.”

He adds that the Vuvale partnership is built on a foundation of mutual trust, respect, and deep commitment between the countries.

https://www.fbcnews.com.fj/news/fiji-strengthens-ties-with-australia/

Fiji’s three-speed economy

Fiji’s swift rebound from the pandemic-induced downturn has been impressive.

The economy is doing better than it was in 2019 with tourism leading the rebound. Visitor arrivals in 2022 exceeded most expectations and last year inbound demand surged past the record arrivals of 2019.

“Pent-up international travel demand in key markets and advanced readiness for open borders, with careful and detailed planning, put Fiji in a prime position to return its tourism industry to pre-pandemic output.”

ANZ Research believes Fiji is getting close to the summit of the tourism cycle. Another good year is locked in this year before tourism’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is likely to start dropping.

Room to grow

Tourism’s problem in Fiji is supply not demand.

When international borders reopened on 1 December, 2021, pent-up demand in main markets drove a rapid rebound in accommodation and food services activity.

In 2023 record numbers of mostly high-yielding tourists saw the sector exceed pre-Covid numbers.

A number of industries benefit directly from international tourism including accommodation, food services and transport. These industries are expanding and are expected to have another good year before tapering off.

Capacity constraints – or the number of rooms available – in the hotel sector are likely to see growth ease in line with inbound demand.

Gross value-added growth is expected to ease to 8.2 per cent next year and moderate to 3.2 per cent in 2025; a solid result.

That said, capacity limits may spark a phase of investment in tourism facilities and services, as new facilities may be needed to cater to the growth in demand.

But to increase capacity takes time.

Beside the ‘fast lane’ industries, Fiji has a series of so-called ‘middle lane’ sectors which are growing more moderately.

These include wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, agriculture as well as information, communications and technology.

Offshore remittances continue to support these industries, offset somewhat by soft investment and employment growth, net overseas migration and elevated food prices.

Tech upgrade

One ‘middle lane’ sector with a promising outlook is information and telecommunications. This sector consists of traditional media such as radio, TV, film, print but also software publishing, information services such as libraries and archives and telecommunications including internet service providers and web hosting.

Output contracted 1.1 per cent on average between 2017 and 2019 and fell a further 14.5 per cent (cumulative) across 2020–21.

Activity has since rebounded and we believe it is now on par with 2019 levels.

The outlook is positive too. Wireless telecommunications activity is expected to grow rapidly as new technologies are taken up. Existing internet service providers are consistently upgrading to increase download speeds, reliability and coverage and to offer new products.

With more products and a greater uptake of streaming services, it should lift output. Fiji’s business process outsourcing sector is growing and the need for faster data processing and hosting requirements is likely to boost growth in information and telecommunications over the next two years.

According to media reports, Google is interested in laying its own fibre optic cable with a landing station on Fiji’s coral coast – a key tourist hub.

If this project comes through, information and telecommunications output could permanently shift to a higher plane.

Agriculture

Agriculture and fishing is Fiji’s third-largest sector in terms of gross value and remains important, due to its contribution to export earnings.

Sugar cane has been the mainstay of this sector, although output has been impacted in recent years by farmers exiting the industry when their leases expire.

Nonetheless, sugar cane provides a stable income for many in Fiji’s rural population and this could pick up if the idled Penang Mill is reopened.

Production of yagona (also known as kava) has shot up since 2014, more than offsetting the decline in sugar cane and contributing to the sector’s expansion.

We’re forecasting agriculture sector growth to remain steady, averaging 3.2 per cent over 2024 and 2025.

The ‘slow lane’ industries are constrained now but will pick up as the economy strengthens. These include construction, business services and, to a lesser extent, mining.

New investment is the key, notwithstanding existing labour constraints. Once a cluster of new projects starts, these industries are likely to pick up and change lanes.

Shifting gears

Pent-up international travel demand in key markets and advanced readiness for open borders, with careful and detailed planning, put Fiji’s tourism industry in a prime position to return to its pre-pandemic levels.

That recovery is now complete. With limited new sources of growth, Fiji goes back to the pre-pandemic average where GDP grows by about 3 per cent each year.

To shift gears, Fiji could speed up its ‘slower lane’ industries, in particular construction.

On top of this, several opportunities exist in the ‘new’ energy space such as upgrading water infrastructure and strengthening the transport network including airport, ports, jetties and roads.

A pick up in construction would broaden to the business services sectors, putting Fiji on a higher growth plane. A diversified economy can come on the back of improved infrastructure.

Fiji’s Growing BPO sector attracts Australian industry

Fiji’s Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector is gaining traction among Australian companies seeking outsourcing solutions. Recently, Fiji made a significant impact at Contact Centre Week, a premier trade show in Australia and New Zealand. Daniel Stow, Fiji’s Trade Commissioner for Australia and New Zealand, highlighted Fiji’s participation in the event as a strategic move to attract investment in the BPO space and foster sector growth.

In an email interview with the Australia Fiji Business Council (AFBC), Stow said, “Australia continues to be one of the largest sources of FDI into Fiji including in the BPO sector as awareness of Fiji as a nearshore outsourcing destination increases. We see Australian companies invest in a broad range of areas across the sector including ICT infrastructure, setting up BPO/KPO operations or outsourcing part of their business to vendors already on the ground in Fiji.”

Participating alongside Outsource Fiji, Investment Fiji, and the Fiji Consulate General and Trade Commission Australia and New Zealand, the three-day summit featured exhibitions, awards ceremonies, discussions, and technology demonstrations. Stow said there was much interest from attendees in Fiji’s BPO sector and that there were a number of leads that came out of the show looking to outsource or expand operations to Fiji.

Asked about the short-to-medium term outlook for the sector Stow said, “There still remains immense growth potential, which continues to be one of the fastest growing industries in Fiji. We are now looking to capitalise on Fiji’s status as hub of the Pacific and as a cost-effective, nearshore destination for outsourcing in order to attract further investment and help continue to diversify the Fijian economy. There’s also continued investment in supporting infrastructure for the sector including undersea cabling, contact centre offices and data rooms as well as dedicated ICT business zones to complement Fiji’s already advanced telecommunications infrastructure.”

Sagufta Janif, Executive Director of Outsource Fiji, described the summit as a vital platform for engaging industry stakeholders and generating interest in Fiji’s potential as an outsourcing hub. She said it was also an opportunity to promote their upcoming event, the Exploring Outsourcing in Fiji Conference.

Kamal Chetty, Chief Executive Officer of Investment Fiji, underscored their joint participation with Outsource Fiji in showcasing Fiji’s appeal for outsourcing investments. Chetty emphasized Fiji’s advantages, including a skilled workforce, cost-effectiveness, and a business-friendly environment. Participation in events like Contact Centre Week enables Investment Fiji to connect with potential investors, understand their needs, and forge valuable business relationships in the outsourcing sector. Through meaningful engagement with decision-makers and influencers, Fiji aims to solidify its position as a premier destination for outsourcing investments.

Fiji’s BPO sector is emerging as a significant contributor to the country’s economy, offering competitive advantages and opportunities for growth. With a strategic geographic location, English-speaking population, and a stable political environment, Fiji presents itself as an attractive destination for outsourcing services.

The BPO industry in Fiji primarily focuses on customer service, technical support, data entry, and back-office operations. The sector benefits from a skilled and trainable workforce, with the government and private sector investing in training programs to enhance the capabilities of the local workforce and meet the demands of international clients.

Fiji’s BPO sector benefits from government support, including tax incentives and infrastructure development initiatives aimed at fostering business growth and attracting foreign investment. Additionally, the country’s robust telecommunications infrastructure and reliable internet connectivity contribute to the sector’s competitiveness.

https://afbc.org.au/news/fijis-growing-bpo-sector-attracts-australian-industry/

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Cooperatives, SMEs & Communications, Hon. Manoa Kamikamica to look for investors

Minister for Trade Manoa Kamikamica is hoping to secure some investors interested in Fiji’s tuna industry in the coming months.

Kamikamica says he will be travelling to the United States as well as Europe for this.

The Minister says Fiji and the Pacific have not really benefited from its tuna stock, and the negotiations on tuna subsidies did not progress further as some World Trade Organization members did not support it.

Kamikamica says the Prime Minister is on the same page that Fiji needs to take advantage of its tuna industry.

“I have the blessings of the Prime Minister to go and look for investors, and there are some good signals coming, so hopefully in the next six to twelve months we can start progressing down that line to create our own industry.”

Kamikamica says the fisheries subsidies currently stand at US$22 billion, and the Pacific needs to try to manage its own tuna industry.

“Why are we surrendering our fishing stocks to other countries to come and fish? It’s like the Arabs and the Middle East saying to other countries, Come and use our own oil, and then we only get little bits at the end.”

The Pacific is home to two-thirds of the world’s tuna stock, and Kamikamica says Fiji is working alongside neighboring Australia and New Zealand to try and create some rationality in the highly subsidized industrial environment.

https://www.fbcnews.com.fj/business/kamikamica-to-look-for-investors/

Fiji gets green light to export fresh chillies into Australia

Fresh chillies from Fiji can now be exported to Australia with a valid import permit.

This has been successful following several months of negotiations between the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji and Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

The success of this collaboration was reached through technical negotiations and supported by in-country discussions between the two Pacific family members.

BAF Chief Plant Protection Officer, Nitesh Datt says this achievement not only opens up new opportunities for trade but also strengthens the cooperation between Fiji and Australia on matters relating to biosecurity.

Datt says they look forward to delivering fresh chillies to Australian consumers in the coming months, while contributing to the prosperity of Fijian farmers.

He is urging farmers and exporters to fully capitalise on this opportunity.

Australia’s Chief Plant Protection Officer, Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith, says this collaboration’s market access opens up more opportunities for Fijian exporters.

With the completion of negotiations, DAFF welcomes prospective importers to apply for an import permit through the Australian Biosecurity Import Conditions system, BICON.

Fijian ginger powers ag exports; demand in Australia surges

Fiji’s ginger industry is experiencing a remarkable surge, capturing the attention of global markets and igniting optimism among farmers and policymakers alike. Agriculture Minister Vatimi Rayalu recently lauded the industry’s continuous success as a prime export commodity, citing sustained demand from key markets worldwide.

Rayalu said ginger played a pivotal role in Fiji’s economic landscape, noting its contribution to employment generation, farmers’ socio-economic well-being, and the country’s export revenue. In 2022, Fiji’s domestic earnings reached an impressive $1.3 billion, with the agriculture sector accounting for $927.5 million, representing 68 per cent of total domestic export earnings.

The agriculture minister attributed this substantial contribution to the production and sale of various agricultural products, with ginger emerging as a standout performer. Fiji’s chilled crop and livestock exports have consistently exceeded the $100 million mark annually since 2020, boasting an average growth rate of 13.3 per cent over the past five years.

Despite global market challenges, ginger has distinguished itself as the fourth-highest earner among Fiji’s fresh chilled non-sugar agricultural exports. In 2022 alone, Fiji exported 1,219.3 tonnes of fresh green ginger, valued at $6.9 million, marking a significant growth of 8.9 per cent compared to the previous year.

Minister Rayalu expressed optimism for further expansion in export opportunities, particularly in Australia, where Fiji’s ginger has already made significant inroads. In 2021, Australia imported 980 tonnes of ginger, including both fresh chilled and value-added products, from Fiji, signalling a growing appetite for Fijian ginger among Australian consumers.

Currently, Fiji boasts 750 registered ginger growers who play a vital role in catering to both domestic and international markets. Their dedication to cultivating high-quality ginger has positioned Fiji as a trusted supplier in the global spice trade.

With demand for Fijian ginger on the rise and favourable export prospects, stakeholders are optimistic about the industry’s future growth trajectory. As Fiji’s ginger continues to captivate palates around the world, it not only promises economic prosperity but also underscores the country’s potential as a leading player in the global agricultural arena.

https://afbc.org.au/news/fijian-ginger-powers-ag-exports-demand-in-australia-surges/

Outsource Fiji gains momentum at Contact Centre Week Summit

Fiji is now top of the mind for many Aussie and Kiwi companies looking to outsource and exhibiting at trade shows like Contact Centre Week which will help attract further investment in the BPO space and continue to grow the sector in Fiji.

This has been highlighted by Fiji’s Trade Commissioner for Australia and New Zealand, Daniel Stow as Outsource Fiji, in partnership with Investment Fiji and the Fiji Consulate General and Trade Commission Australia and New Zealand, participated in this year’s Contact Centre Week Australia and New Zealand summit.

The three-day event featured a range of activities including exhibitions, an awards ceremony, interactive discussions, technology demonstrations, and community building sessions.

Stow says this is the third time Fiji has participated at the Summit which serves as an important platform to raise the country’s profile as a premier outsourcing destination to a targeted international audience.

Outsource Fiji’s Executive Director, Sagufta Janif, has highlighted the strategic importance of the summit for promoting their upcoming event, the Exploring Outsourcing in Fiji conference.

She says the summit is undoubtedly one of the largest gatherings for the customer contact community in the Southern Hemisphere.

Janif says being part of this event allows Outsource Fiji to engage with industry stakeholders and generate interest in EXO Fiji.

She says they are extremely pleased with the level of interest the EXO Fiji event has garnered and it demonstrates Fiji’s potential to attract clients and businesses seeking to nearshore operations.

Investment Fiji’s Chief Executive Officer, Kamal Chetty, says by participating in this event alongside Outsource Fiji, they aim to showcase Fiji as a premier destination for outsourcing investments, focusing on the unique advantages and opportunities the country presents in this dynamic sector, including a skilled workforce, cost-effectiveness, and a business-friendly environment.

He says they used this platform to engage with potential investors, understand their requirements, and meaningful connections that can translate into fruitful business relationships in the outsourcing sector, and meet with decision-makers and influencers in the customer contact industry.

https://www.fijivillage.com/news/Outsource-Fiji-gains-momentum-at-Contact-Centre-Week-Summit-xfr845/

FIJI BREAKS VISITOR ARRIVAL RECORDS

Fiji welcomed a record 929,740 visitors in 2023 — the highest ever.
This is up by 46.1% compared to the same 2022 (636,312 visitors) and a growth of 4.0% compared to the pre-pandemic arrivals in 2019 (894,389 visitors).
Markets such as Australia, New Zealand, United States and Canada have exceeded past years.

Fiji’s Investment Prospect for 2024 and beyond

Despite global economic uncertainties, Fiji experienced a modest increase in foreign direct investment flows, focusing on diverse sectors such as Services, Tourism, Energy, Real Estate & Construction, Manufacturing, Agriculture, and Business Process Outsourcing.

Major global players like Google, Alibaba, and Starlink have chosen Fiji for their operations, signalling the country’s growing significance in the digital and technology landscape.

The tourism sector is booming, with transformative projects underway, including expansions, refurbishments, and eco-friendly initiatives.

The northern division, particularly Vanua Levu, is emerging as a key player in economic development, attracting substantial investments.

The real estate and retail sectors are undergoing significant transformations with key projects shaping up across the country.

Fiji’s outsourcing sector is experiencing remarkable growth, positioning the country as an emerging hub for outsourcing services.

With upcoming international events and business missions, Investment Fiji aims to showcase Fiji’s investment potential, foster global partnerships, and attract more foreign investments.

Investment Fiji’s Chief Executive Officer Kamal Chetty, recently shared insights on the country’s thriving investment landscape in 2024 and beyond.

Full report: https://online.flippingbook.com/view/284144566/

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