Regional integration is crucial for pacific growth
Fiji is hosting the inaugural Trade Pasifika in Nadi, Denarau. Trade Pasifika brings together over 50 traders and buyers, from 9 Pacific Island countries to display and promote their products and services in Fiji. The Fijian Government through the Ministry of Industry and Trade has been involved in the Exposition through the Trade Pasifika Steering Committee and hosted the opening reception at the Sheraton Beach Resort, last evening.
When addressing the guests at the welcome reception on Monday night, the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Shaheen Ali, emphasised the fact that the Fijian Government strongly supports the concept of the regional trade exposition, and its objective to provide a visible platform for the private sector from the Pacific Island Countries to, essentially, promote their business in the Region.
Mr. Ali emphasised the importance of the Pacific market to Fiji’s trade. As a group, the Pacific regions accounts for 20% of Fiji’s export, which a larger market than most trading partners of Fiji, and it is also larger than combined exports to Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia. In fact, the Pacific Islands collectively are Fiji’s third (3rd) largest export destination.
“Despite this, overall trade within the region is very small, for various reasons. It is, therefore, crucial that Pacific businesses come under one roof, to create linkages and synergies between importers and exporters to facilitate trade in the region” said the Permanent Secretary. The Permanent Secretary highlighted to the regional participants, the importance of branding of products and services, which not only is an effective marketing tool but also is a mechanism of growing an economy.
“The Fijian Government has embarked on creating the “Fijian Made-Buy Fijian” brand, with the objective to associate Fijian products with quality and consistency; compliance with international standards; affordability and an image that is consistent with the pristine nature of Fiji” said Mr. Ali.
Mr. Ali challenged Trade Pasifika to strive to create a “Pacific Made” brand, which promotes the unique identity of the Pacific products. By buying Pacific Made we would be creating more jobs in the region and growing the Pacific economy from within.
The Minister for Industry and Trade, Mr. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum stated that we should maintain regional solidarity as is the “Pacific way” especially when negotiating trade agreements with our larger trade partners.
“The Pacific market is 8 million strong and we need to take advantage of this growing domestic market. However, we are unable to fully utilise this potential as we are penalising our own regional products, through high import tariffs and stringent biosecurity requirements. Inter-regional trade will enable the Pacific islands to realise their potential and as a group enhance the region’s international competitiveness” said Minister Sayed-Khaiyum.
Minister Sayed-Khaiyum wished the organisers and participants a very successful Exposition and emphasised the need for regional trade, not for the benefit of one or two countries in the region, but for the benefit of the region as a whole.