The growing Fijian diaspora in New Zealand is being underutilised in building people to people relationships, says Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad.
Speaking to over 200 members of the business community at the New Zealand-Fiji Annual Business Conference in Auckland, yesterday, Prof Prasad said over 70,000 Fijians live in New Zealand having migrated over the years.
“Nearly a quarter million New Zealanders will visit Fiji each year – that’s over 5 percent of your whole population.”
“In fact, Auckland can boast to be Fiji’s fourth largest city – after Suva, Lautoka and yes, Sydney.”
“On any given day during the year, Fiji hosts around 1000 New Zealanders – as tourists in our tourism industry, in our services sector.”
“I think it is fair to say that we are not capitalising fully or even extensively on these vast people to people links.”
He urged his co-speaker and New Zealand Minister for Finance, Grant Robertson to work towards full integration of both economies to help achieve this.
“It is my expectation that done right, we will grow the two-way trade between our countries to more than $1.5 billion – $2 billion by 2030.”
“In fact, Minister, I want to propose a target of $2 billion in two way trade between Aotearoa New Zealand and Fiji by 2030.”
He expressed optimism with the resurging Fijian economy that grew 18.6 percent in 2022 and anticipated a further growth of 8 percent this year.
“New Zealand is Fiji’s 4th largest export market absorbing over $F100 million of exports annually. Fiji stands as New Zealand’s 20th largest trading partner absorbing approximately $US350 of your exports – I think it is fair to say we are underperforming.”
“The generous tax incentives in Fiji provided an excellent base for consolidating the agricultural sector, ICT, business support operations (BSO) towards integrating both economies,” he argued.
”Fiji’s agricultural sector is ready to absorb New Zealand technology and investments to meet New Zealand’s demands for a whole range of agricultural products. “
“The tax incentives are among the most generous in the world. Whether they are in niche areas or broad areas, Fiji welcomes investments in small scale and large agricultural sectors.”
“The sector is on the cusp of its most significant expansion in decades. We want New Zealand to be part of the story of building food security.”
As agriculture was particularly susceptible to climate change, Prof Prasad stated that investment in renewable energy and research and development is crucial.
“Nothing will make Pacific Islanders happier than to see New Zealand companies working with ours to drive a renewable energy revolution across the country,” he said.