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Think About The Future, Ex-NZ PM Tells CPA Here

Think About The Future, Ex-NZ PM Tells CPA Here
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Dame Jennifer Shipley.
September 16
10:00 2017

Where do we want to take the children of Fiji tomorrow?

This was the question asked by the former New Zealand Prime Minister Dame Jennifer Shipley while speaking to the Fiji Sun newspaper in an interview on Thursday.

Mrs Shipley was amongst the top speakers at the CPA Australia-Fiji Branch 2017 Congress which ended yesterday.

The two-day conference was held at the Shangri-La Fijian Resort and Spa, Yanuca Island.

Mrs Shipley encouraged all the Pacific economies not to rush how to take the next step into business.

She said: “We need to know what we want to offer, what we want to share in terms of the economic region, where we can up-skill and invest in human capital and finance before going further.

“Think not only about what we do every day, but how we could do better,” she said.

“If we are going to innovate, do we open up skies completely or partially, who do we want to attract, how do we want to invest, how do we  get financial capital to follow those people in building new businesses that hopefully in time will bring the Pacific people back home?” questioned Mrs Shipley.

 

Pacific Trade

The Pacific Islands have got a great history of trade between itself and amongst itself for a thousand of years.

Referring to New Zealand and Australia, Mrs Shipley said they have a strong and historic relationship.

I think there’s a huge opportunity for the future of the pacific but it requires everybody to decide their interests, she said.

“I’ve been encouraged and I watched from a distance in the progress on this.

“But each country must decide on its own rules.”

She added that rather than having a small agreement on the certain number of workers for example that are allowed to come to Fiji each year, we can try and work on the agreement like Fijian workers to go to New Zealand, learn and develop what they could bring back that can be used in the next set of businesses and the investment could flow either way.

Mrs Shipley also highlighted the importance of not selling the land to foreigners, like they do it in New Zealand.

She said that there are good business models in New Zealand where Maori land is owned and they have been able to be shareholders in new businesses representing the lease value so the foreigners just lease or rent the land for a particular period of time.

“The shareholding is not only an income, but also that the value of the assets grows and the local people economic circumstances have significantly improve to the point that they investment in the next set of businesses.”

She added: “So to try and get in a way from a workforce to someone getting the skill in that workforce and an appetite to invest back in the Pacific.

“I think the free trade agreement have the potential to facilitate that. We have certainly seen that in New Zealand, we have far more foreign investment since we’ve had free trade agreement with Australia which is our longest one and China the recent one.

“It does not mean they can just do anything, it defines the rules clearly that it leads to real innovation where it is win-win situation, win for New Zealand and win for the investors.”

 

Tourists and airlines

Mrs Shipley also discussed the importance of getting a large number of tourists and the value of every large body plane that we get to land here in Fiji or any other island in the Pacific.

She said that Fiji has a very successful airline and customers from all around the world that are coming from different directions, but the question to be asked was, can it move into a more open sky arrangement not necessarily on the routes that Fiji Airlines have already established on and how to re-create an environment either through the existing routes or by introducing new airlines on new routes.

“Can we grow the number of tourist coming into the Pacific countries like Fiji?

“Our experience in New Zealand , many airlines coming in every direction of the world regularly now.

“What made it a big difference is not only the money that we earned from tourism or hotels and all sorts of investment but some of our top quality food  goes into the under carriage of those aircraft to some of those liquid markets of the world.”

She said that rather than freezing their foods and putting it in ships, they have access to get fresh high quality premium product to the other parts of the world at least twice a week.

“So again the Pacific is not about a matter of tourism, it’s a matter of giving tourism the rate that you can manage to deliver growth.”

She added that it’s important to think about the other investment you can make to get high quality return areas and actually use the additional roots into different markets that were not active to again create new revenue strings.

“Of course the islands must decide for themselves, but in my own experience in the mid 1990s we open up the skies, and at that stage there were very limited groups in New Zealand. Now we have got people flowing from multiple directions, and we also have these high quality foods flying out,” she said.

“It’s a very important link.”

 

Internet world

Mrs Shipley also highlighted the much more connected world we are now living in.

“We are much closer than we were in the internet of things in a well-connected economy with capability. You can participate in a multiple business and in a different way.”

She also commented on the much unique cultural history and friendly qualities that Fijian people has just as how Maoris are which are special.

It has extraordinarily advantages and is highly marketable which almost defines who we are, she says.

“We are not the same but we value each other.”

Everyone that comes to Fiji goes away with a very warm, generous, happiness, gracious and sincere thoughts of Fijian people and these are rare qualities, said Mrs Shipley.

Feedback: selita.bolanavanua@fijisun.com.fj

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