NATION

‘We Will Open A Foreign Mission In Israel’

 Savenaca Narube is party leader of Unity Fiji. He is the former Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji and former Permanent Secretary for Finance. The views and opinions expressed
22 Sep 2018 10:00
‘We Will Open A Foreign Mission In Israel’
Unity Fiji leader, Savenaca Narube. PHOTO: Unity Fiji
  •  Savenaca Narube is party leader of Unity Fiji. He is the former Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji and former Permanent Secretary for Finance. The views and opinions expressed here in the article are those of Savenaca Narube and not of the Fiji Sun.

While it is understandable that domestic affairs have dominated political discussions, we should not lose sight of the importance of our foreign relations and policies.

As they say, no man is an island. We are all part of the global village.

We rely on foreign countries for our exports, imports, tourists, and investors. Our foreign policies are therefore extremely important for our livelihoods.

Unity Fiji believes that Fiji has lost its way in our foreign relations. We have not taken our rightful place in the region. We have cast our missions too wide with very little cost benefit evaluation. Unity Fiji will therefore review all existing foreign policies and put in place changes that will advance the interests of Fiji.

Our foreign policies will focus on our effective integration into the global village as a small and open economy. Unity Fiji will implement measures to fully integrate our political, economic and social lives into the global market place to return the greatest dividends to the people.

At the end of the day, we should guarantee our fair share in all spheres of our foreign relations – bilateral, sub-regional, regional, plurilateral and multilateral. The principles that will anchor our negotiations and discourses in all phases of our foreign relations are:

  1. a) the needs and aspirations of our people to effectively integrate into the global community;
  2. b) the dynamics, integrity and diversity of our cultures and traditions;
  3. c) the sustainability of our natural resources – land-based and maritime; and
  4. d) environmental sustainability, climate change, green policy, and the health of the Pacific Ocean.

Bilateral relations

Bilateral relations will be the backbone of our foreign relations. We will deepen our relations with the traditional regional partners such as Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Island countries.

We recognise that these countries provide us with the largest share of trade in goods and services than any other country and they grant us mobility of workers. They will therefore continue to play a vital role in building our foreseeable future. At the same time, we will deepen our “look north” strategy to forge new frontiers and open new markets for our exports, tourism and investment.

Unity Fiji is mindful that bilateralism very often a relationship of unequals. We will be particularly mindful of this in our relations with all foreign countries, including non-traditional partners. We will refuse offers of assistance that are costly to the country in the medium to longer term.

Regional relations

Unity Fiji will strengthen our relations within the Pacific region. All good things start at home. We are stronger as a region than individually. Fiji’s membership and leadership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is critical. We will support the MSG Trade Agreement and political mandate. Our support is further founded on the belief that an effective and successful MSG can be an added impetus to propelling Pacific Regionalism forward. We believe that a strong sub-regionalism makes for a strong regionalism. Fiji’s recent bilateral economic framework agreement with Samoa, when conducted in tandem with our MSG economic integration, will add further dynamism to MSG’s contribution to Pacific regionalism. Unity Fiji will work towards bringing balance in the conduct of our policy in the MSG. We will explore a process of formal dialogue involving the relevant countries to seek a permanent solution for West Papua.

Pacific regionalism, represented by the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), needs the support of all Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS), Australia and New Zealand. We believe that regionalising all the initiatives under PSIDS is the best way to lend collective support, strength and solidarity to our Pacific region given our small sizes, remoteness from our markets, and the fragmentation and fragility of our geography. We note that since 2009, Fiji has not given its full support to Pacific regionalism. Unity Fiji will change that.

Furthermore, we note that Pacific regionalism, after 47 years, is still trying to find its niche. Unity Fiji will support the efforts to review the effectiveness of regional institutions to ensure that they stay relevant to the needs of member countries. We will explore ways and means of increasing the benefits especially from harmonisation, economic integration, and administrative/legal/institutional integration, which are three of the six forms of regionalism contained in PIF’s “The Framework for Pacific Regionalism.” Unity Fiji will encourage other PSIDS to start trading and implementing sequential regional integration activities under the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA).

Global relations

Under global relations, Unity Fiji will push for active negotiations on issues that are still pending under the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement. But more importantly, Unity Fiji will co-operate and harmonise with other Pacific ACP States regarding initial discussions and negotiations for a post-Cotonou Agreement that will come into force in 2020.

We will also pursue other summits formulated on South-South coalition.

Foreign missions

We know that the operations of our foreign missions cost a lot of taxpayers’ funds and we should therefore carefully assess their benefits. Unity Fiji will therefore review our foreign mission with the view of streamlining them to become more relevant for our purposes. We will open a foreign mission in Israel.

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