Twenty New Zealand businesses were represented in the New Zealand-Fiji Business Council (NZFBC) business mission to Fiji last week ably led by New Zealand based President Chandar Sen, Pacific Cooperation Foundation CEO Craig Strong and PTI NZ Chief Investment Officer Manuel Valdez.
“The mission, themed ‘Ease of Doing Business in Fiji’, saw participation from businesses ranging from manufacturing, construction, financial, insurance, investment, trading and freight forwarding sectors besides others,” Mr Sen said.
Faiyaz Koya, Fiji’s Minister of Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands & Mineral Resources was the chief guest of Business Conference at Tanoa Plaza. “We must work together to reach the full potential of our relationship by exploring means and ways of further engagement. Two-way trade in goods of the countries reached $992.2 million in 2017. And around $71 million worth of New Zealand investments were registered last year in tourism, services, wholesale and retail sectors,” Minister Koya said.
He also mentioned that in order to strengthen the trade and investment relations between New Zealand and Fiji, a Fiji Trade & Investment office in Auckland had been set up this year represented Peter Rudd, who was also part of the delegation. Mr Sen supported this initiative and raised the issue of the similar benefits that could be gained by New Zealand Trade Commissioner being based in Suva.
Minister Koya said that one area that had potential for attracting business in Fiji was the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector. He underscored that not only is the Fijian workforce talented, they are also English-speaking and BPO services in Fiji are available at a much cheaper cost than in New Zealand.
New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji Jonathan Curr said, “The total economic relationship (two-way trade) between the two countries is valued at something like $1 billion. New Zealand firms are also one of the largest groups of investors in the Fijian economy, covering tourism, services, wholesale and retail, and transportation, storage and communications. NZ ranks second by number of investment projects and fourth by value in 2017.”
He added that there are hi-tech software companies in New Zealand that are currently working with Fijian partners, in mobile telephony, app development, and future services based on new technology such as block chains.
Peter Rudd, Auckland-based Manager of Trade & Investment NZ said, “Our meetings to date have been very fruitful and it’s confirmed what I previously understood: that Fiji has very strong capabilities in the BPO and contact centre sector and capacity for further growth.”
Speaking to Pacific Periscope after the mission Mr Valdez said, “PTI NZ and Fijian Trade & Investment Office had a joint two-day programme where we explored possibilities for potential trade and investment. The two organizations visited private sector companies in Kalabu, Valelevu, such as Mindpearl, RCL Services, Lyndhurst, Joes Farm and Recoveries Corporation. We also visited Investment Fiji, Agriculture Marketing Authority, and Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation, all of which PTI NZ works closely.”
“We found there are enormous investment opportunities in Fiji right now and the decision to strengthen the strategic alliance with the Fiji Trade & Investment Office in Auckland will be good to facilitate solid investments between the two countries,” Mr Valdez said.
Trade & Investment Commissioner Michael Greenslade and Trade Development Manager Ian Furlong took the opportunity during NZ week to conduct two Path to Market workshops, one each in Nadi and Suva. Twenty three participants attended in Nadi and thirty-seven in Suva. The Path to Market programme in Fiji is a partnership with the Fiji Export Council and CEO Jone Cavubati said the Suva workshop was the biggest attendance he had seen during the four years the programme has been held.
Mr Greenslade says, “The attendance figures reflected the reach the Fiji Export Council has amongst the private sector in Fiji and the media coverage reflected their strong relationship in this community. We also took the opportunity to have a private meeting with the CEO of Invest Fiji Godo Mueller-Tuet and we have several exciting opportunities we will be exploring with his team.
The combined Fiji-New Zealand Business Councils had a well-attended one-day conference which had over 100 registered participants. This was attended by the New Zealand delegation as an additional part of the programme. Key speakers included Mr Sen, Mr Strong, Minister Koya, High Commissioner Curr, High Commissioner Filimone Waqabaca and case studies from private sector members in both Fiji and New Zealand.
Additionally, the week long programme included the Otago University Alumni, who held a function at the New Zealand High Commission which was attended by over 200 Alumni and friends of the university. They were addressed by Pro Vice Chancellor Stephen Higgs and CEO of the Otago Highlanders Roger Clarke.
“The week was New Zealand’s week with prominent media stories each day on radio, television and in the newspapers and it was great to be part of a well-organised NZ Inc event, thanks must go to Jonathan, Haila, Alex and the team at the High Commission, who were the common thread to all events,” Mr Greenslade said.
“The week ended with a well-attended and well-organised Super15 home game for the Highlanders against the Chiefs. The result should not discourage a repeat of this event for next year,” Mr Greenslade added.
For more information please email Manuel Valdez, Chief Investment Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org