Fiji exported about $400million worth of exports to Pacific Island countries in 2012 compared with about $350m in 2011.
However, the Ministry of Industry and Trade recorded less than $50m worth of exports to New Caledonia.
This was revealed in Suva yesterday by permanent secretary Shaheen Ali at a Private Sector Awareness seminar on a Trade and Investment Mission to New Caledonia.
Mr Ali said about 20 expressions of interest had formally been registered to be part of the mission team to New Caledonia.
"The ministry has already started preparations for this important mission and the groundwork has commenced to ensure the mission is successful," he said.
The seminar was designed to initiate direct dialogue between the private sectors and the two countries.
A discussion on a formal memorandum of understanding between Investment Fiji and ADECAL, an investment promotion agency based in New Caledonia, was also established.
"The MOU will ensure that a formal mechanism of dialogue is established and it will forge trade and business and not just for the upcoming mission but long relationship that we will see in New Caledonia."
French Ambassador Gilles Montagnier said Fiji was the natural partner of New Caledonia in the region, particularly on the economic front.
"I am very pleased with the idea of Prime Minister Bainimarama leading a trade mission to New Caledonia," he said.
"Expectations are high on both sides, and I understand that Investment Fiji and ADECAL are working very hard to make your task easier."
With two-hour flight from Fiji, Mr Montagnier said Fiji had a market of 260,000 people with a GDP per capita of more than $US35,000 ($F64,000) — a leader in the region by a great margin.
(Source: The Fiji Times)