Saturday, 23 April 2016

Anti Corruption in Fiji (GOPAC-Pacific and UNODC)


This post is based on the Anti Corruption Workshop for Pacific Parliamentarians at Novotel in Nadi organised by GOPAC, UNODC and UNDP in 2015. It was an opportunity to meet with Parliamentary members of the Fiji Public Accounts Committee, Parliamentarians from other Pacific countries and anti corruption agencies.
Fiji adopted the the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2008 and is the only Pacific country to have set up an anticorruption agency namely FICAC. Fiji has also been involved in reviewing 3 other countries under UNCAC. One of the questions asked by an Australian Parliamentarian was on the setting up in Fiji of a Standing Committee on Corruption. It was noted that the Fijian Constitution had provisions for anti corruption agencies. Investigations of corruption allegations required it to be dealt with apolitically and confidentially. Standing committees would require bipartisan parliamentary membership and political maturity was an important prerequisite so that the proceedings of the Committee did not deteriorate into political grandstanding.
Corruption is a concern in Fiji especially with the private sector. FICAC has jurisdiction to litigate against companies that have procurement arrangements with Government Ministries on corruption allegations. They deal with companies and employees only when there are allegations of fraud.
Corruption is such an issue in the private sector that the joke is that the richest people are Purchasing Officers who deal in procurements. They have the biggest houses and the flashiest cars!
 As the due processes will take place by the Judicial Services Commission to appoint the FICAC Commissioner in due course, it is noted that FICAC has impressed with its anti corruption investigations, advocacy, public awareness and litigation. It has come of age in its recent successful case where they used their own expertise without relying on QCs.
At the workshop it was reported that in Fiji, the government was looking at a network of laws that complement each other in terms of anti corruption. Under the Companies Bill 2015, business concerns are divided in different categories based on their turnovers. They have to disclose Annual returns and this can be cross checked with filings on individual returns, for example. This is one means of keeping tabs of irregularities.
At the workshop, the Civic Society organisations were represented by Transparency International Fiji and PNG. Both TI groups have a policy of  “constructive engagement” with their Governments. The point made was that they were anti corruption NOT anti government. This soft power approach has enabled constructive inputs into policy work in Fiji and PNG. In the case of PNG, the Government there requested TI PNG to be part of the review team under UNCAC reviewing other countries.
There was mention of Integrity Pacts in the Pacific Parliamentarians Workshop as a means of curbing corruption amongst private companies with Governmnet procurement contracts. Corruption in this sector is getting sophisticated given that Government uses a cash based accounting system as opposed to the accrual system used in the private sector. This leaves room for unscrupulous business people to game the system..
The essential elements of the integrity pact are: (a) It is pact (contract) among a Government office (the principal) inviting public tenders for any type of contracts related to goods and services and the bidders;  There is an undertaking by the Government ministry that its officials will not demand or accept any bribes and gifts. There is a statement by each bidder that it has not paid, and will not pay, any bribes in order to obtain or retain the contract; 
(b) There is an undertaking by each bidder to disclose all payments made in connection with the contract in question to anybody. Each bidder explicitly accepts the no-bribery commitment and the disclosure. Winning bidders must abide by the pact until the contract has been fully executed;
(c)Bidders are advised to have a company code of conduct (clearly rejecting the use of bribes and other unethical behaviour) and a compliance program for the implementation of a code of conduct throughout the company;
(d) Arbitration is used as a conflict resolution mechanism and the instance to impose sanctions. There is also an independent monitoring system which can be performed with active civil society participation or any other structure with independence, accountability and credibility.

Friday, 22 April 2016

The Unsung Heroes of TC Winston: The Media and Volunteers

This week I draw attention to two groups that work quietly and humbly in the background to take Fiji back to normalcy after the ravages of TC Winston. While I will also touch on the economic aspects, it is worth noting that we usually take them for granted during natural disasters. They are the media and volunteers.

The Media
A letter writer noted in the FT of 26/2/16 that the media kept people up-to-date with news and the after effects of Cyclone Winston. While the stories and images were traumatic, we were nevertheless  touched by the many inspirational stories of courage. More importantly, the letter writer had been inspired by the news items and images to take personal action. Rather than just sympathising with the victims he noted that we should “give  food, clothes, our time and prayers of encouragement.”
The role of the print, audio and visual media in Fiji. including PINA, has been very influential in helping inform the people of the scale of TC Winston’s trail of destruction. Stories of suffering and also courage in the face of adversity has helped the nation and the global community to not only be informed but to take action in providing help to the victims. I  saw a local TV reporter explain very succinctly the ravages of TC Winston on the BBC. (To be honest, I was nervous at first thinking that he might not match up to the standards of the BBC but I was pleasantly surprised at the high quality reporting he provided.)
I notice while reading yahoo online news (which compiles reports from various US and global news services that some articles carried bylines from Fiji reporters.
I am always impressed with the reporters I have met who are usually polite and very patient.  Having been a reporter myself in my younger days, I can understand the need for patience especially the long winded way interviewees take to explain simple points. I am told I am too westernised.
In addition to providing news coverage, most media outlets were helping out in the
TC Winston National Fund Appeal in collaboration with the Fiji Red Cross, the National Disaster Management Office / DISMAC or other agencies and corporations. This media support has been beneficial in accelerating the process of collecting funds not only locally but internationally too. The amount of money raised from these media initiated appeals is very substantive. In addition, the monetary value of free print media advertising space, and TV and radio slots  used to publicise these appeals would add up to tens of thousands of dollars. While I was driving a week ago, I had a group ringing up a radio station to air an announcement on ration distributions. This was done immediately by the radio announcer. In normal times, a fee would have been charged for such announcements.
I understand that media staff have also been involved in cyclone relief work too. A report in the FT of 27/2/16 noted that staff of The Fiji Times had made their way out to families in areas that were worst-hit by Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston like Tailevu Ba, Tavua and Rakiraki to distribute food rations, clothes and other giveaways. One radio and TV program has kept us in high spirits with the lighthearted comments and joke. There were complaints in social media that they shouldn’t be joking so much especially in these hard times. However the media has also played a role in helping us have a positive upbeat attitude inspite of all that we have suffered. The print. audio and visual media in Fiji are the first unsung heroes of TC Winston.

Volunteers
I now turn to the second unsung heroes, the volunteers who have played a pivotal role in the distribution of rations. We often expect volunteers to appear out of nowhere during natural disasters and often grumble when they don’t show up quickly in affected areas. The bulk of Fiji’s volunteers are youths and it is to Fiji’s credit that when disasters happen our young people are always willing to help out with warm smiles and hard work. I  worked mainly with the “Youths For Integrity” volunteers who worked with the Fiji Red Cross, Vodafone/ATH, FENC, ASPIRE and FCOSS (which coordinates the work of NGO volunteer work.)
The bulk of them are between the ages of 18 and 25 and are University students. Many said that while they were personally traumatised by the scale of the destruction and suffering they did not have time to feel dejected as most of those they distributed relief supplies too expected encouragement and even prayers from them. Most volunteers have to pay for their own transport costs and in many cases the meals they have during work time are usually very basic snacks.
Special mention should be made of the UNV (United Nations Volunteers) Fiji who ran a program on Feb 12 on “Youth Change the World Volunteering for SDGs” that brought together volunteer groups in Suva and empowered young people to come out immediately after TC Winston passed Fiji.
The Fiji Council of Social Services  coordinated NGOs in relief and volunteer work in coordination with NDMO / DISMAC with great efficiency.
If you are free this afternoon at 5.00pm, the Fiji National Youth Parliament Alumni and ASPIRE are holding a TC Winston Memorial Night to remember those who have lost their lives and those heavily affected including the unsung heroes who rose to the occasion.
Finally we appeal to readers that if they have clothes, food and other donations we would be most grateful to receive this today at the Transparency International Fiji Office on Pratt Street Street, phone 3304702 . Pick up can also be arranged.

Economic Recovery after TC Winston

There is no denying that we were hit by the strongest cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere. To the credit of the nation, we were resilient and did not allow the cyclone's monster size ravages to overwhelm us. In Suva for example, most people were not only cleaning up their homes and compounds but also clearing blocked drains on streets and also removing debris the day after YC Winston struck. Referring to the importance of resilient communities, the Japanese ambassador Takuji Hanatani noted that  the key to disaster risk reduction is investing before disaster strikes. Japan had provided an additional $F1.345million through its grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects that will contribute to the recovery of Fiji and to building more resilient communities. News reports from Koro, Ba and many cyclone ravaged areas indicate that people have started rebuilding and planting crops and not waiting for material aid to arrive.
The holistic approach of the NDMO working with the public, NGOs and international partners  has meant that while relief and rehabilitation work continue, economic recovery plans are also being actively pursued.

Economy
While the current growth forecast is being revised down to 2.5%, the Reserve Bank of Fiji continues to maintain the Overnight Policy Rate at 0.5% to help rebuild the economy. It is expected that the inflation rate will be below 3%. Our foreign reserves currently sits at $2.019 billion which is enough to to cover 5.7 months of imports. While this is healthy, it may go down slightly due to demands for imports in the next quarter, to help in rehabilitation work. Agriculture exports will also be lower in the coming months given the $208 million loss in crops and livestock. It is good news that the Ministry of Agriculture has started giving out seedlings to farmers in the West and North.
The positive side is that tourism will see a boost in the coming months and there will be higher revenue from remittances. The RBF has also taken decisive action in reintroducing the Natural Disaster Rehabilitation Facility (NDRF) to provides funding for businesses faced with either production loss that needs stocks to be replaced or damaged inventory, or asset loss which may include repairs for damage to business properties.

Energy Supply
One area that was heavily affected by TC Winston was electricity, a necessity when running businesses!  Hospitals, schools, hotels, dairy facilities, businesses and tens of thousands of households were affected by the constant power outages. NZ’s aid of FJ$1.42 million to help restore electricity infrastructure, including re-erecting fallen power poles, restringing power lines and reinstalling fallen transformers and other overhead electricity distribution equipment go a very long way in supporting economic recovery. The Minister of Finance, Hon Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, has also met with the Indian Minister for Energy, Shri Piyush Goyal. They discussed the impact of TC Winston on the energy sector and the need to protect the sector from widespread damage in the future. A robust approach through the use of solar, wind and hydro energy to enable cost effective, 24-hour supply of electricity to all homes in Fiji was also discussed.

Tourism
Fiji was very fortunate that the main tourism areas like Denarau, the Coral Coast and Mamanuca were not affected by TC Winston. A lot of goodwill has also been shown by developed nations like Australia, NZ, and the US who revised their travel advisories when the situation was made clear to them. Fiji Airways provided major discounted airfares to Nadi for tourists coming from Australia and New Zealand. Discounts go over 50% for Australia and over 30% for NZ and while sales ended on March 15, the fares are applicable for travel between March 4 to June 16.
In a bid to improve and build the Fiji – China relationship, It is good news that the China Chamber of Commerce of Fiji is being set up soon to enhance trade between the two countries..
Yang Xunlei of the Chinese Embassy in Fiji noted that China is a huge market and that many Fijian products have strong attraction in higher-end niche markets such as organic agriculture products, seafood, skin, and beauty products.

Upholding Good Practices
An important factor in the push for economic recovery is the need for businesses to practice fair trade practices. The Fiji Commerce Commission has warned that penalties including imprisonment can be imposed if businesses engage in unfair practices after Cyclone Winston. Commission Chair Joann Young had stated that the public reported some businesses of jacking up prices, hoarding goods and refusing to provide supplies and adulterating certain consumer products to make profit.
The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption is working with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and Divisional Commissioner’s office to maintain transparency and accountability throughout its rehabilitation operation post Cyclone Winston.
This is a proactive approach taken to minimise the likelihood of abuse by public officers. While natural disasters do not create corruption and fraud, studies have shown it creates conditions in which those crimes can thrive. Corruption is also helped by the relaxed procedures to ensure speedy delivery of aid and services.

US Withdraws from Pacific Forum Fisheries Treaty

30 years seems to be the limit for treaties! That is the impression we get with the recent news that the United States is withdrawing from the treaty that has allowed US fishing boats to fish for tuna in the Pacific. Of course, there is a strong possibility that the dispute will eventually get solved by the Forum Fisheries Agency working with its US counterpart and that there may be a downward revision to the US$89 million initially agreed for payment in 2016.
The Pacific has huge marine resources and while other nations can exploit our tuna stocks to earn hundreds of millions of dollars annually, there is also a compelling argument that marine resource owners should be more proactive in cashing in on their vast fishing waters. Unfortunately, my travels around the Pacific and the outlying islands of Fiji have shown that too often we have a smug sense of entitlement. We have this spiritually possessive view that God bequeathed us with these vast land and marine resources and it is our birthright to sit back and wait for all kind of goodwill payments and subsidies. Since we live off these payments, we do less work and become obese. The result is that in many areas of Fiji and the Pacific, people are satisfied consuming imported tinned fish and cheap processed foods. We have become a shadow of what our forefathers were. Now and then, we have well meaning people sailing around in boats purported to be of the type used by our forefathers eons ago. There is a perception that this is a romantic view of culture that plays into Western notions of Pacific people being idle, fun loving and promiscuous.
We need to get off our backsides and work hard to utilise our resources. The sad sight of people in many coastal areas walking unsteadily like dazed zombies from too much grog or beer and canned fatty foods should give way to fit people walking upright with pride just like our forefathers did. I have even come across places in Fiji where fishermen go out fishing but sell everything and buy cheap tinned foods. This kind of behavior should change because it increases incidences of NCDs.
One of the challenges of marine resource owners, for example, charging exorbitant amounts for goodwill payments to fishermen who wish to fish in their waters is that it artificially increases the price of fish and marine products. It is also illegal because the payments are not subject to a legal agreement and encroaches on public sector regulatory provisions. It also gives an unfortunate impression to young people that it is okay to sit back and live off the payments made by others to fish in their waters.
In many of the Pacific Islands I have visited and around Fiji, these people readily talk about God. There is the perception that it is not good to run fishing ventures which might lead to prosperity. We shouldn’t store the riches of this world as it will rot unto dust, they argue, and isn’t prosperity an American evangelical idea that is evil? they say contemptuously. I think our devotion to God through fasting and praying loudly and speaking in tongues and jumping and laughing in the spirit should continue unabated. However we should also realize that our bodies are the temple of God and it would just be nice if we can plant more locally grown foods and go out to catch fish and marine products to consume so that our bodies are healthy in a Godly way. Better still, resource owners can go a step further by going beyond subsistence living to developing small and micro fishing ventures and even developing fishing fleets. We could use the profits to build bigger churches, invest in education, send people on missions and support worthy social cause.
It is reported that the collapse of the fishing treaty has caused a “high level of frustration from Pacific nations where budgets are being skewered.’ My understanding is that there will eventually be some compromise and the treaty will move forward with a conservative amount offered to Pacific states.
The point of this article is that we should develop a culture of entrepreneurship (and not make the excuse that it is unChristian.). We should  utilise our marine and land resources instead of relying on goodwill payments and subsidies of the kind paid by the US. We should go to a quiet place (perhaps the bathroom) to search our souls, cry out to God and seek spiritual rejuvenation to come out of our smugness and realize that hard work and the prosperity it brings are also good in a Godly way. .

FICAC and Anti Corruption in Government

Recently we had the FICAC Inaugural Awards Nights where 15 staff members were recognised for their efforts in the fight against corruption. They were reminded to maintain their integrity and to be fully aware of their anti corruption roles.
In the Harry Porter films, there is a name that everyone is so afraid to say out aloud. Like uttering the name of “Lord Voldemort”, some people in Fiji become fearful when they hear the acronym FICAC. A friend said that people are only fearful if they are involved in corrupt acts and hearing the acronym FICAC should jolt them to do the right thing! Perhaps one of the reasons some people have a fearful view of FICAC is because the public has not been made aware of the other important role it plays (apart from litigation) in helping Government Ministries promote integrity. FICAC works with Ministries to identify weak areas of their operations that can be the target of corruption. There is a lot of such engagements taking place that is not often reported in the media.
A FICAC analysis between 2007 and 2014 highlighted that corruption continues to  rear its ugly head in some Government Ministries. One reason highlighted in the analysis is the lack of understanding of work procedures by some civil servants. Some civil servants for example are not aware that when a Ministry wants to purchase, for example, computers as replacement for obsolete ones, that a Board of Survey has to be carried out first. There is also the lack of compliance and enforcement which will be rectified in Civil Service Reforms. The FICAC analysis showed that “abuse of office” topped the list, followed by “forgeries” and then “embezzlements.” Corruption is not usually easy to detect because the givers and receivers of corrupt acts do so in secret. FICAC Manager of Corruption Prevention, Siteri Rabici reported late last year that more than 50% of complaints that come to them from the public are on poor Government services; especially with the slow responses to queries or departments that exhibit poor standards of public services. Efficient Government services prevents facilitation payments by  members of the public who may be pressured to give small bribes to get speedier services.
It is good news that the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) has had its 2016 budget increased to $9 million. This has increased from the $200/$300k it received 6 to 7 years ago. I am given to understand that the increased budget is due to Government’s resolve to eradicate corruption in all Ministries. The increased funding promotes systemic reforms conducive to a corruption free Government operating environment.
One issue that we are often not aware of is that FICAC is an independent body and cannot be directed by Parliament on whom to prosecute. In mid 2015, the Public Accounts Committee made 21 recommendations to FICAC requiring it to provide a comprehensive report on all actions taken on matters of corruption. One recommendation required information sharing between FICAC and the Auditor General’s Office to enable swift action on ant corruption. FICAC was also required (in one of the PAC recommendations) to build a system that prioritized issues raised by the the Public Accounts Committee.
While these were well meaning recommendations, Parliament and its Committees cannot give directions to FICAC to take individuals to court as it is an independent body. There are set procedures to follow when lodging corruption allegation complaints with FICAC. FICAC usually assesses if there is sufficient evidence to take the matter to court.
Members of the public who have complaints on corruption in Government Ministries  can contact FICAC through their toll-free number 1322 (for Vodafone and Digicel customers).

Lessons of China's Anti Corruption Policy for Fiji

This week I look at China’s anti corruption policy and its lessons for Fiji. Most articles I have read in the global media seem to imply that the Chinese anti corruption campaign is aimed at getting rid of those who are a threat to the leadership of  President Xi Jinping.  Other articles note that there is a huge power struggle in China. While on his State Visit to the US, Xi Jinping even joked about it. There is no power struggle over anti corruption. “There is no House of Cards,” he said to laughter referring to the US TV Series about political conflict that is also popular in China.  When Xi Jinping visited Fiji in November 2014 he said that "China views Fiji as a cordial friend and an important partner.”
I note the comment made by Dr David Chaikin a Yale University and Cambridge graduate and a respected legal scholar and practitioner specialising in transnational criminal, financial and corporate laws. He had said that Fiji needed to look ‘further afield’ besides Australia in trying to find laws to counter fraud. He had added that Fiji has “to have a look at what’s being done in other jurisdictions … because they really provide a better model as to how you go about tackling fraud and corruption. And that includes countries who you may not even think of looking at such as China.”
It is good news that an extradition treaty between Fiji and the Peoples Republic of China has been agreed to, in principle. The need for a treaty has become more pronounced with the ever increasing numbers of transnational crimes. 
Despite the absence of a formal extradition treaty, the US has extradited criminal suspects to China. This move by the US authorities augers well not only for the Chinese anti corruption drive but also for the fight against corruption globally. China has also launched a huge effort to track suspects of corruption related crimes who have fled the country and it has pledged to work with other nations to win their return to face justice. In the past the U.S. and other Western nations had refused to deport these alleged criminals due to worries about how they might be treated by China’s justice system. These concerns have been proved to be incorrect. 
The Chinese government is helping the Fiji Police Force through a $2 million grant to improve daily policing operations. Acting Fijian Minister for Defence, Security and Immigration had said that “Transnational crime is of concern to both countries, so is corruption. We are happy to have the Chinese government supporting us in a concerted effort to tackle crime,”
China has also pledged its support towards Fiji’s climate change advocacy in the Pacific region. This is important as the Chinese anti corruption agency CCDI has gone to great lengths to investigate environment based corruption especially with senior Government officials accused of taking advantage of their positions to influence policy decisions, build networks of influence, obtain bribes, and undermine market competition. Xi Jinping stressed the importance of laws and regulations in the anti-corruption campaign. Xi stressed that what is most important now is the building of institutions, which includes the attendant laws and regulations. Most Chinese government officials fear Wang Qishan, the head of China’s anti corruption agency known as the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). There is even a joke among Chinese that officials would rather face the devil rather than Wang. He has been a major reason behind the huge success of the Chinese  anti-corruption campaign.
The key to success in anticorruption is to build effective institutions to prevent corruption from occurring. Like FICAC in Fiji the CCDI has encouraged ordinary Chinese to start a “taking pictures of corruption when you see it” campaign, meaning that ordinary Chinese should use their cell phones to take pictures of government officials who engage in practices suggestive of corruption such as luxury eating and drinking. They can upload the pictures to the website of the CCDI so Wang’s agency can start its investigation as soon as possible.

Fiji and China Economic Pathways

Fiji has had a constructive working relationship with China since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1975. To use the Asian expression, the relationship has been like ‘lips and teeth’ with China providing ongoing support and assistance to Fiji despite its challenging relationship with regional neighbours Australian and New Zealand during the 2007-2013 period. This article looks at Fiji’s economy, its relationship with China and the potential for increased economic activity.

President Xi Jinping had stated that the Peoples Republic of China treats all countries in the world community with respect regardless of their size and wealth. In the case of Fiji, PM Bainimarama had noted that China was a true friend who recognised Fiji’s sovereignty when dealing with internal issues and challenges. (The current PACER Plus framework for trade and economic co-operation is a case in point where concerns have been raised about an unbalanced agreement that provides New Zealand and Australia unprecedented access to the Fiji market without reciprocal arrangements. )

Premier Li Keqiang stated that the Chinese Government would continue to encourage Chinese investment in Fiji to grow the economy and improve the lives of Fijians.
China’s Economy
Although the world economy has recovered slowly, China’s economy has continued to do well. While the United States and EU states are concerned about going back into recession, the Chinese economy is envisaged to move up in 2016 at a slow but nevertheless healthy rate of 7.4%. In 2016, China’s GDP is about 50% of the United States. In 2000 it was about 10%. Gross domestic product (GDP) is the money value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country's borders in a specific time period. If the annual economic growth gap between China and the US is 6% per year and real appreciation is 2.5% annually, then China’s economy would become bigger than the US before 2020.
China’s economic growth has improved living standards dramatically and facilitated the huge increases in its middle class. This is one of the most vital and influential economic groups that countries with well developed tourism industries, like Fiji, should tap on. The Economist magazine reports that nearly 1 in 10 international tourists globally is now Chinese, with 97.3m outward-bound journeys from China, of which around half were for leisure. Chinese tourists spend most in total ($129 billion in 2013, followed by Americans at $86 billion) More than 80% of Chinese tourists say that shopping is vital to their plans. They are expected to buy more luxury goods while abroad than tourists from all other countries combined.
A powerful Chinese economy means that there is a symbiotic relationship with developing states like Fiji based on equal partnership and recognition of national sovereignty. This will also have a positive effect on the global economy. An economically stable China is therefore good news for developing countries like Fiji because it means that there are no strings attached to prosperity. Fiji would not need to adopt neo colonial policies that is mandatory when dealing with its long time regional neighbours.

Fiji’s Economy
Fiji’s economy is expected to grow by 4.5% in 2016 due to State reforms & stimulus, huge investments and higher consumer spending facilitated by low oil prices. In mid 2015, the global financial services company called Standard & Poor’s raised its long-term sovereign credit rating for Fiji from B to B+. This was done due to the stable economic outlook after the September 2014 elections and re-engagement with development partners.  Tourists arrivals have grown annually increasing by 8.7% in the first 2 quarters of 2015. Fiji Airways has leased and purchased new aircrafts and opened up new routes which should further boost tourist arrivals. The Reserve Bank of Fiji stated that in Quarters 1 and 2 of 2015 new lending for investment (mainly in construction) increased by 82.1%. New lending for consumer purchases increased by 14.4%. The reduction in oil prices kept average inflation at a low 1.3% in the Jan – July 2015 period. I predict that Fiji’s economic growth rate will be 5.2% in 2016

Fiji and China Economic Relationship
From 2000 to 2014 Fiji’s imports from China of machinery, vehicles, food products, clothing, footwear, iron & steel, chemicals, and furniture had reached about $624 million. Fiji’s exports to China of wood chips, fish, tuna, seaweed, mineral water, vegetable products and Bauxite had risen in the 2000 – 2014 period to about $135 million. One of the challenges of supplying the Chinese market is that Fijian exporters / manufacturers would not be able to keep up with the huge supply demands.
There is scope however to expand the supply of marine products, ginger products and cosmetics. Adopting a strategy of developing niche market products would auger well for our exports to China. Other areas that could be jointly developed is in pharmaceutical products and smart tech.
There is potential to develop our fledgling Bulawood film industry through the construction of a film studio that could position us as a Pacific hub for major film productions from China, Bollywood and Hollywood.