A new platform to bring together entrepreneurs engaged or planning to engage in industrial, commercial and investment activities in Fiji has been created in New Zealand.
No organisation is being formed to elect office-bearers — it will remain an initiative of Indian Newslink and Radio Tarana, two Auckland-based media organisations that understand well Fiji, its government and its people and are committed to promoting them.
The first event, called the “Fiji Business Dinner”, held at Pullman Hotel, Auckland, last week set the tone and mood for a more constructive engagement with Fiji “towards which we have always worked”, said a statement by Indian Newslink.
Trade Minister Todd McClay, the Fiji government through its honorary consul in Auckland, the New Zealand India Business Council and the chairmen, chief executives and managing directors of some 50 organisations in New Zealand, some of which have established operations in Fiji, are involved.
“We have sported the idea of creating such a platform for some time but this has taken long in coming,” said the Indian Newslink.
“But we hope that it would become a significant player in New Zealand-Fiji relations, function as a think-tank and involve those who mean well for Fiji.
“Governments will always do their best to promote friendly relations between countries and derive benefits of trade, commerce, business and perhaps even aid when the need arises. That is the nature of international politics.
“In the case of New Zealand and Fiji, there are even more compelling reasons for more cooperation that confrontation.
“Firstly, both countries belong to the same region. We share a common destiny, we are both vulnerable to natural disasters and have to compete with larger economies for global recognition and trade.
“Secondly, both countries have permitted cross-border movement of people, although it became one-way for some people for some time following the military coup in Fiji on December 5, 2006.
“New Zealanders visit Fiji regularly as tourists, contractors and businesses boosting its economy. Thousands of us enjoy the sunny beaches and resorts of Fiji celebrating weddings and honeymoons and marking holidays.
“Since the first coup that occurred in 1987, thousands of Fijians have relocated themselves in New Zealand and most of them do well as owners, managers and franchisees of small, medium and large enterprises.
“New Zealand has also been a popular destination for Fijians to study in our educational institutions and later become important players in public and corporate life.
“Thirdly, neighbourhood is one of the most coveted aspects of relationships and it is important for governments and countries to cherish it. New Zealand and Fiji need each other to protect each other’s territorial, marine and human safety and security.”
“As our Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry acknowledges, Fiji has one of the most developed economies in the Pacific. It is based on manufacturing, a thriving tourism industry and natural resources including fish, forest and mineral resources.
“It is our largest trading partner in the Pacific and one of only two Pacific nations to feature in our top 50 trading partners, along with Papua New Guinea.
“New Zealand is a major supplier of services to Fiji and we in turn make up Fiji’s second largest tourist market after Australia. New Zealanders made more than 124,000 visits to Fiji in 2014.”