The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Investment Roadshow and Trade Fair began on Saturday with a trade and investment seminar.
Discussions took place between relevant agencies and private sector on various trade and investment opportunities.
The inaugural event was officially opened by the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, at the Sheraton Fiji Resort on Denarau Island in Nadi.
Ratu Epeli said the discussions would focus on how investors can take advantage of the potential opportunities and how Governments can help remove impediments.
The seminar will be followed by a three-day trade fair from August 5 to 7 at the Sheraton Fiji and will run concurrently with the inaugural Pacific Islands Development Forum.
“Fiji is honoured to be hosting this event, the first of its kind for the MSG, and we look forward to it becoming an annual fixture when it travels to Papua New Guinea next year,” he said.
Bold shared vision potential
Ratu Epeli stressed the MSG has celebrated several firsts recently and these “firsts” build on one of the MSG’s most notable achievements – the MSG Trade Agreement.
“The MSG Trade Agreement is breaking down trade barriers between our countries, and providing the foundation for growth,” he said.
“The remarkable progress of the last couple of clearly signals the clear direction where the MSG is headed, and the creation of a single market.
“This bold vision has the potential to unlock new avenues of wealth and prosperity for our peoples to lift up our economies, and to create untold opportunities for trade and investment.”
Ratu Epeli nevertheless admitted the road to economic union will not be without its share of challenges,
But he is confident the nations of the MSG are more than equal to the test.
“In the MSG, we believe by working together we can come up with our own ideas, forge our own partnerships, and arrive at our own solutions,” he said.
“We understand that the long term stability and prosperity of the region lies in close collaboration and partnership between our governments and between our private sectors.”
Rising regional trade
The President noted the timing is right for such an event as trade in the region is on the rise.
“To give you an example, Fiji’s trade with Pacific island Countries has increased from less than one per cent of total trade in 2000 to eight per cent in 2012,” he said.
“Exports to the Pacific island countries comprise 22 per cent of Fiji’s total, representing the largest market for Fiji, even bigger than Australia.
“But this is only the beginning. The potential for future growth in trade amongst the Pacific island nations is enormous.”
Ratu Epeli said the MSG Trade Agreement is now looking at new areas for trade that includes services and government procurement.
PS talks on improvement
The Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade, Shaheen Ali, who closed the seminar yesterday described it to have been a useful one.
“We have shared ideas, lessons, experiences and the valuable insights into improving and promoting business and trade in the MSG,” he said.
Mr Ali stressed the business communities need to take advantage of the incentives and benefits that are available within the region.
“It has been encouraging to note the host of incentives available in each country and the key sectors (such as tourism and manufacturing) where opportunities for investment exists,” he said.
“It goes without saying these incentives could be made more attractive.
“In this regard, a memorandum of understanding between the investment promotional agencies could be crucial for sharing industry and business information and facilitating inter-regional investments.”
(Source: Fiji Sun)