Ladies and Gentlemen,
Bula vinaka

I’m delighted to be here for this Roundtable discussion on the state of the Fijian economy and in particular the opportunities for investment and doing business in Fiji.

As you know, I am now the Foreign Minister as well as Prime Minister and to assist us this morning in particular for technical and precise information you want on doing business and investment in Fiji, I have my Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Faiyaz Koya, his Permanent Secretary, Shaheen Ali, our Director of Trade, Seema Sharma, our Trade Commissioner in Sydney, Zarak Khan and our High Commissioner to Australia, Yogesh Punja. ( Truman Bradley, the Chairman of Investment Fiji and his Chief Executive, Godo Mueller-Teut).

Any one of our senior officials is capable of addressing your enquiries. So let’s have a free flowing discussion in which those most capable of addressing areas of specific concern to you can answer the questions.

I’d like to start, however, by saying this: our economic prospects in Fiji have had unprecedented buoyancy. I am sure that many of you know by now that we are enjoying the seventh consecutive year of growth – the longest in Fijian history. And even with the impact of Tropical Cyclone Winston back in February, the Fijian economy is still on track to grow by up to three per cent this year.

There are a number of reasons for this – but first and foremost is our sound management of the economy and the implementation of effective and forward looking policies which have been recognised by global financial institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF and the Asian Development Bank. Coupled with the political and social stability that my Government has forged in Fiji over the past decade and that has been sorely lacking in previous eras in Fiji.

We are also open for business, with a range of investment incentives and some of the lowest corporate and personal tax rates in the region. We are eager to explain all of this to those of you who have any questions at all about the investment climate. And, of course, there are a unique set of circumstances about Fiji that make us such an attractive investment option for Australian companies and those of other nations.

These include our position at the hub of the Pacific, with easy access to other regional markets; our educated, English-speaking workforce; our investment in new infrastructure such as new roads and airports and dramatically more efficient ports; our general connectivity that includes world class telecommunications; plus a Government that is pro-business and regards the private sector as a vital partner in development, couple with our zero tolerance for corruption and is committed to adhering to international standards and best practices.

Ladies and Gentlemen, all these things make Fiji a compelling investment destination. I want to thank all of you who are already doing business with Fiji for your continuing support. And we are also here today not only to take your questions and suggestions but to explain my Government’s policies to anyone who may be interested in investing in Fiji for the first time or to expand an existing investment.

Thank you for coming and I look forward to a positive engagement that is in both our interests as a nation and your interests as business people, potential investors or as members of the financial sector.

Vinaka vakalevu and I look forward to your questions.