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PM Intends To Give Relationship With Australia, NZ High Attention

In 2015,  the combined value of Fiji’s trade with Australia and New Zealand reached $1.668 billion Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has established his intention of giving Fiji’s relationships with Australia
16 Sep 2016 11:10
PM Intends To Give Relationship With Australia, NZ High Attention
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama \

In 2015,  the combined value of Fiji’s trade with Australia and New Zealand reached $1.668 billion

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has established his intention of giving Fiji’s relationships with Australia and New Zealand the high level of attention they deserve.

He said this will be his focus as he assumes the role of Minister for Foreign Affairs tomorrow.

Mr Bainimarama made these comments as he formally opened a tripartite forum of the Fiji, Australia and New Zealand Business Councils at The Pearl in Pacific Harbour yesterday.

He further stated his intention to working with Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Faiyaz Siddiq Koya, to put trade at centre stage of diplomatic efforts and streamline some of our existing processes.

“I intend first of all to strengthen the relationship between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism,” he said.

“Too often, trade hasn’t been given the importance it deserves in our diplomatic relations with other countries. So I will be insisting the two ministries work more closely together.

“Also for our diplomatic missions overseas to be more focused on facilitating trade, with particular emphasis on promoting the Fijian Made brand of quality products and services.”

Mr Bainimarama remains convinced that there are significant opportunities that still haven’t been tapped.

He had a message for our High Commissioner to Australia, Yogesh Punja and New Zealand, Filimoni Waqabaca and Trade Commissioner in Sydney, Zarak Khan.

“Redouble our efforts to boost our performance and take it to another level,” he told them who were present at the forum.

 

Looking at the bigger picture

Mr Bainimarama used the opportunity to give a detailed briefing of Fiji’s position on the events of the past week that have again produced a hiccup in our diplomatic relations with New Zealand.

“It is something that does not affect our trade or our people-to-people exchanges in any way at all,” he stated.

“But it is definitely something we need to work on in the interests of our wider relationship and future cooperation.

“Let me begin by saying this: in common with most Fijians, I have a great deal of affection for Kiwis and Aussies as people.

“I appreciate their down-to-earth, unpretentious natures; their irreverent sense of humour; and especially their eagerness to come to the help of their mates when they are in trouble.

“In common with other Fijians, I will never forget the way New Zealand and Australia responded so quickly and so generously to our desperate need after Tropical Cyclone Winston struck these islands seven months ago.

“We are neighbours and friends and always will be.”

But, he emphasised “we must work harder to align our sometimes testy political and diplomatic relationship more closely with the warm personal and vibrant commercial ties we share as people.”

And this is the message Mr Bainimarama hopes to give the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, when he meets him face-to-face in New York next week during the United Nations General Assembly.

 

Deep links

Mr Bainimarama reiterated that Fiji treasures its close links with the people of Australia and New Zealand – our deep and longstanding friendships and our economic ties.

“You are the glue that binds our economic relationships together through the trade you conduct and the investments you have made in Fiji,” he said.

“And increasingly, the trade and investment that Fijian companies conduct in Australia and New Zealand.”

Last year, the combined value of Fiji’s trade with Australia and New Zealand reached $1.668 billion.

Mr Bainimarama said this represents 27 per cent of our nation’s total trade with the world in 2015.

“And we place the highest importance on increasing this trade for our economy and the prosperity of every Fijian,” he said.

Edited by: Rachna Lal

Feedback:  farzana.nisha@fijisun.com.fj

 

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