Vuvale Magazine | Edition 10

The Fiji Consulate General & Trade Commission to Australia and New Zealand, in conjunction with the New Zealand Fiji Business Council (NZFBC), the Fiji High Commission Office in Wellington, and New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, hosted a webinar on the subject of the trade recovery between New Zealand and Fiji.

The event was opened by NZFBC President, Chandar Sen, who at the time of the event was in Fiji, commented on a seamless and hassle-free travel experience. “Travel is important for trade between the two countries, and I can report the pathway is now clear,” he says.

Among the distinguished guests was, the New Zealand MP and parliamentary undersecretary for trade and export Rino Tirikatene, who spoke on the importance of trade with Fiji and the Government’s strategy in this area. “A focus of our current strategy is refreshing key trade relationships, including diversification,” he says. “We must remember that the Pacific is a major market for New Zealand. Fiji is among our top 20 trading partners on par with France and ahead of even much larger economies such as Mexico or Brazil.”

Mr Sen also welcomed Fiji Minister of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport Hon Faiyaz Koya, who outlined Fiji's current areas of focus for attracting investment which include business process outsourcing, manufacturing, infrastructure development, agriculture, and renewable energy. Moreover, Fiji offers generous tax incentives for certain investments and presently a 200% tax deduction on the development of or upgrade of online shopping websites with integrated payment platforms.

To finalise, four companies, Tower Insurance, Higgins, Centrecom and Traceable Solutions, shared their experience doing business/investing and operating in Fiji. To review the session follow the link below:

During the past quarter, the Fiji Trade Commission to Australia and New Zealand launched a campaign to celebrate International Women's Day. The social media initiative shared the stories of five Fijian businesses and the women behind their success.

Throughout the week, the female leaders were recognised for #breakingthebias, running impactful businesses and helping to forge #Fijian women’s equality

Among the founders was, Debra Sadranu from Nama Fiji. Debra’s passion has always been to help women in Fiji gain access to training and employment to improve their quality of life.

Naheeda Maqbool from Zorganic. Her mission has always been to empower and support women in the agriculture sector through training and employment opportunities.

Lisa and Zoe Paisley from Aggie Global. The sisters are committed to encouraging women to work in the agriculture sector as they believe this is crucial to building an equitable industry that ultimately helps the entire community thrive.

Vian from Loaloa Naturals. Her intention has always been to create authentic, vegan, natural, cruelty and fragrance-free cosmetic products. She is inspired by the surroundings of her island home.

Lastly, Jodi Smith from Matanataki. Supporting women in business have always been one of Jodi’s passions; she believes more women are needed in business, particularly in leadership roles. “Women's understanding and experiences of the cycles of life are critical if humanity is serious about shifting away from extractive models of production and into regenerative ones”.

As part of the efforts to reconnect New Zealand businesses with Fiji, the New Zealand Fiji Business Council hosted an online event featuring Investment Fiji CEO, Kamal Chetty and Tourism Fiji CEO, Brent Hill. About 50 members of the Council joined the webinar.

New Zealand is an important economic partner for Fiji; despite the border's restrictions exports to New Zealand increased by 4% in 2020, and 13 investment projects were registered by New Zealanders in 2021. Also, in terms of tourism, New Zealand is the second-largest market, just behind Australia; in 2019, over 200,000 New Zealanders visited Fiji.

During the session, Investment Fiji Acting CEO, Mr. Kamal Chetty spoke about Fiji’s current economic climate and recent investments that have come into the country. Mr. Chetty stated, “There are a number of investments occurring in the country, even during COVID, and this shows that investors remain confident in what Fiji has to offer.”

“Investment Fiji has developed an online InvestmentSymposium that lists a number of projects looking for joint venture partnerships, or outright sales. This online symposium makes it easier for investors to identify investment opportunities on the ground in Fiji and also assist local companies to find partners for their new and existing projects,” added Mr. Chetty.

Tourism Fiji CEO, Mr. Brent Hill also presented Fiji’s openness to travel with their partner countries. As of today, travellers to Fiji no longer need to complete a PCR or RAT test before leaving their home countries. All they need to show at check-in is:

  • Proof of full vaccination for all travellers aged 16 years and older.
  • Travel insurance.
  • A pre-booked RAT test for when you're in Fiji. The arrival RAT test must be pre-booked for between 48-72 hours of arrival into Fiji (book here).

There has been a rise in demand for kava and kava products, directly reflected in the exponential increase in Fiji’s export earnings. Since 2016 kava exports have increased from $14.2 million to $43.6 million and also comes off the back of Fiji’s agricultural exports exceeding $100 million for the first time in 2020.

The potential of kava exports remains much greater with net new export pathways being created and the commencement of a commercial import trial, allowing Fijian kava suppliers to export to the Australian market.

Since the import trial commenced in December 2021, the Fiji Trade Commission has facilitated over F$677,000 worth of kava exports to Australia and has assisted suppliers in connecting with licensed importers, with kava products now becoming available across the mainstream Australian retail market.

Brisbane-based Fiji Kava Ltd was one of the first companies to receive approval for the commercial import of its kava products, and its 50g packets can now be purchased at Coles Supermarkets throughout Australia.

Green Gold Kava has exported over 700kgs of its premium kava and has distributors across Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane.

Across Fiji, there are more than 10,000 kava growers whose households and communities will benefit from the industry’s growth.

Details for the import permit & biosecurity requirements for Kava can be found here.

In a first for Fiji, and the broader South Pacific, people wanting to insure their home, contents or car can now do it all online, from the comfort of their home or office.

Veilawa Rereiwasaliwa, Head of Digital Distribution for Tower Insurance in Fiji, says that when designing this new technology, Tower put customers first with a focus on enabling them to sort out their insurance needs when and where it suited them.

“No other insurance company in the Pacific has delivered what we can offer. With Tower, if you need insurance, you can get a quote and complete your payments online,” says Rereiwasaliwa. Tower's customers should simply enter their details online, answer some questions and click through a few buttons. It’s that easy and can all be done instantly.

“This new technology is helping us revolutionise insurance in the Pacific by making it simpler and more accessible for more everyone,” says Rereiwasaliwa. Regardless of a customer's location, if they have an internet connection and a phone or computer, they can get Tower insurance.

The launch of this new technology does not mean branches will stop operating. On the contrary, local staff is still available so customers can interact with the support team if needed. Another big benefit to customers is that insurance premiums can now be paid monthly, quarterly or annually, so Fijians can choose which option suits them best.

“This was a major investment for our business, and it demonstrates the support we have from our New Zealand parent company in growing our business locally and making it easy for Fijians to access insurance,” says Rereiwasaliwa.

In February 2022, about forty-five Fijian labour mobility workers have stepped up to rescue about 60 residents at a Lismore nursing home from raging floods in north-eastern Australia.

The entire township of Lismore on the far north coast of NSW has been evacuated as floodwaters reach heights not seen since 1974.

The men arrived in Australia just three weeks before to start working at an abattoir in the New South Wales town of Lismore.

After flooding paralysed the region, however, the men became trapped and were unable to travel to their jobs due to high water levels.

They then put out a call on Facebook saying they were able to help with rescue efforts. The men soon found themselves saving elderly residents at a retirement home.

The Lismore CBD was underwater after days of heavy rain that led to the Wilsons River breaching its levee overnight, with roads cut off. Some residents resorted to cutting holes in the corrugated iron roof of their homes to climb out to be rescued - with the water above doors and windows.

The Northern Rivers community was moved by the Fijian workers' generosity; a clear testimony of the 'Bula Spirit'.

Vinaka vaka levu, you have made Fiji proud.

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