Increasing trade deficit concerns
Fiji’s bilateral trade with China has grown by 350 per cent from 2005 to 2012 showing remarkable progress.
These figures were revealed by the Permanent Secretary for Industry and Trade, Shaheen Ali, during the 2nd China-Pacific Islands Countries Economic Development and Co-operation Forum In Guangdong, China.
He, however, noted that this was mostly attributed to increased imports from China.
“The trade deficit between Fiji and China continues to increase with imports outweighing exports by a ratio of 12 to 1,” Mr Ali said.
Reason for imbalance
Mr Ali said one of the reasons for this imbalance could be the current market access conditions faced by our exporters, as compared to other trading partners of China.
“For example, more advanced economies such as New Zealand, Singapore, and other ASEAN economies have better market access into China than Fiji,” he said.
“There is potential for exports from Fiji (and indeed other Pacific Islands) to grow if market access for our value-added products is improved.”
Mr Ali stressed that the forum provided an ideal platform to identify solutions to the hurdles to ensure full realisation of trade relations between China and the Pacific Island countries.
“This forum is opportune to take stock of the strong trade and economic partnership, that underpins Fiji’s relations with the People’s Republic of China,” he said.
“This partnership will continue to grow stronger in the future, as, our two countries continue to discover new areas of economic co-operation and common interest.”
Mr Ali said there was no doubt the Chinese economy would continue to drive growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Like the rest of the world, the Pacific Island countries also need to increase their trade and economic links with China and pursue opportunities in the rapidly expanding Chinese market,” he said.
A true friend
Meanwhile, the Fijian delegation is led by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests and Rural and Maritime Development Lieutenant-Colonel Inia Seruiratu
He assured the Chinese Vice Premier, Wang Yang, that: “We Fijians will not forget that China stood by us during our period of economic, political and constitutional reforms.
“These reforms were designed to build a more modern, more just and more equal nation.
“We other in the region sanctioned us and sought to damage us, China remained a constant partner and a true friend of Fiji.”
What Fiji can offer China
Mr Ali said Fiji has undertaken a comprehensive review of its trade policy, which identifies that China and Asia are crucial to Fiji’s trade potential in the future.
“There is a high-level commitment by the Fijian Government to bring our economies closer, through its “look north” policy,” he said.
“Fiji should not be viewed as a market of 900,000 consumers, but the gateway to the more than 9 million consumers of the Pacific.
“Fiji is ideally positioned as the region’s transportation, logistics, communication, and manufacturing hub. The vision of the Fijian Government is to make Fiji an ‘internationally competitive economy that serves as a regional hub’.”
Having said this, Mr Ali said considerable opportunities exist in sectors such as agriculture, tourism, ICT, audio-visual, manufacturing and mining to name a few.
“Up to 13 years of tax free status for investors is provided in most sectors, with 20 years provided to investments in the dairy industry,” he stressed.
“Plant and machinery imported for the manufacturing, processing, building and construction and agriculture sectors are also duty free.
“Fiji also offers the world’s best tax incentives in the form of rebate in the audio visual industry, which the growing Chinese Film Industry can take advantage of.”
Mr Ali said he looked forward to creation of new networks, new businesses and new opportunities emanating from the forum.
(Source: Fiji Sun)