Bainimarama: Trade Centre Of Our Foreign Policy Emphasis
Trade will now be at the centre of Fijian foreign policy effort, says Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.
Addressing the 71st United Nations General Assembly in New York, Mr Bainimarama said the change reflected “our new-found confidence.”
He said: “We are also in the process of re-evaluating our relationships with the rest of the world. Last week, I assumed the position of Foreign Minister as well as Prime Minister. And I intend to steadily reform this Ministry and refine certain aspects of our foreign policy. To give it a new direction and a renewed sense of purpose.”
He highlighted the promotion of the impressive collection of quality products and services under the Fijian Made brand.
He said some of these were already making a global impact but “we believe we can do a lot more.”
“Whether it is our water, our cosmetics, foodstuffs and other manufactured goods; the more efficient marketing of Fiji as a prime holiday destination; or spreading the wings of our boutique national airline – Fiji Airways – and flying to other destinations in the Asia Pacific and beyond.
“We intend to immediately boost the level of collaboration between our Foreign Ministry and our Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, which have too often operated in isolation.
“Our diplomats and trade commissioners will be instructed to make it a priority to work more closely with Fijian exporters to promote the Fijian Made brand. And to access goods and services of international standard from new and old trading partners that benefit Fijian consumers.
“More broadly, we are rethinking some of our foreign policy positions and objectives.
“This includes a reevaluation of the central principle of Fijian foreign policy for some years of being ‘friends to all and enemies to none.
“Of course, we seek friendly relations with all nations and are certainly not in the business of making enemies.
“But we intend, in future, to choose our friends in a more discerning manner, and to align ourselves more closely with those countries that share our underlying values and principles.
“These include – above all – adherence to international law and adherence to human rights and human dignity.
“Along with other shared values such as mutual respect, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the resolving of disputes by peaceful means and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.”
He said this change of direction would not be sudden.
He said it was certainly not going to produce a dramatic change in the international company that Fiji kept.
“But we are definitely seeking closer relations with nations that share our values and basic outlook.
“And especially those nations that respect human life and the rights and dignity of their citizens, adhere to the principle of social justice, uphold the rule of law and insist on equality and respect for all human beings, as we do in Fiji.
“As part of our wider commitment to human rights, we are seeking membership of the UN Human Rights Council for the two-year term that commences in 2018.
“We would be the first Pacific nation to serve on the Council and I ask you all to support our bid.”
Edited by Maraia Vula