Jonathan Curr, New Zealand Fiji High Commissioner in Fiji was welcomed to his new post in Fiji just over two weeks ago. He gave his first impressions to Pacific Periscope after we sent him some questions. Mr Curr spoke of his warm welcome by staff; returning to the Pacific and opportunities in Fiji for investors and businesses.
“I’ve been humbled by the warm welcome I’ve received from the Government of Fiji and Fijians in general. I could not have asked for more in the way I have been made to feel at home. I should also add that the staff at the High Commission have been wonderful. They are a great, high performing and experienced team, and I am blessed to be working with them.”
On his first day in the office, Mr Curr and his wife were treated to a traditional i-sevusevu welcoming ceremony.
“We both felt very honoured and have now drunk our first cup of kava in Fiji!” he said.
“I tried my best to address the team in Vosa Vakaviti as part of the ceremony – I have many things to learn, and lots of practice to do, but I’ve made a start!”
Returning to the Pacific from Turkey, a country with a huge population, there were many differences.
“Scale is one of the things that hits you first. Turkey is a country of around 80 million people. Fiji’s population is just over a hundred times smaller. In Turkey, I was living in a city – Ankara – that contained more people than the whole of New Zealand! On the other hand, the scale of links between New Zealand and Fiji is huge. The bilateral trading relationship is almost five times that of New Zealand and Turkey. And this is only trade. New Zealand and Fiji share rich and deep links between peoples and institutions.”
He was conscious of being still new in the role of High Commissioner, having arrived just over one week ago.
“I need to caveat my initial impressions on business and investment opportunities. Tourism, food & beverage, and agriculture are three sectors that have already struck me as holding more potential. I’ve been impressed by the commitment of Fiji’s government to support the development of the agriculture sector, including the local dairy industry.”
Mr Curr said he was interested in exploring what support there was for the development of entrepreneurship and innovation in Fiji, especially in more technologically focused products and services, and in developing the value chain in cooperation with New Zealand.
“New Zealand has been at the forefront of creating an environment renowned for its ease of doing business. We are currently ranked first by the World Bank. There may be opportunities to share some of this experience with Fiji,” he said.
“But the role of the High Commission is to connect interests, be alert to opportunities, responsive to requests for assistance, and to help manage the implementation of private sector development and trade facilitation activities under aid and other programmes.”
He believes that one of the key ways of working closely together with Pacific Trade Invest New Zealand is through clear and regular communication. Having a good understanding of what both organisations are doing can lead to new ideas about how we can partner to deliver or support activities or programmes.
“We are always open to working with you, or to working more closely together,” Mr Curr said.
Being new, his key message is that he’s eager to learn.
“I’m looking forward to having conversations with exporters to better understand some of their challenges and how the High Commission team can provide support.”
He felt heartened by the cooperation he had heard about between the Ministry for Primary Industries in New Zealand and the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji, for example.
“Fiji now has approval to supply 49 different fruits and vegetables to the New Zealand market. And I know it’s not only about agricultural goods. Exporters should know that we are always ready to listen, and to help connect them with the right people to provide information or to help resolve any issues that arise. In this regard I’m looking forward to working closely with a range of business and trade bodies, including PTI.”
For more information please contact: PTI Trade & Investment Commissioner Michael Greenslade on email@example.com