Fiji looks for foreign investors in tourism, agriculture, forestry, services and renewables

Tourism is the mainstay of the Fiji economy, but policymakers want to broaden the country’s income sources. Fiji’s Consul-General and Trade Commissioner to Australia, Zarak Khan, says there are opportunities with business services, agriculture, forestry, textiles and renewable energy.

Zarak Khan, Fiji’s Trade Commissioner. Source: Fiji Trade Commission

Khan says about 60 per cent of foreign investment in Fiji over the last 10 years has gone into tourism, particularly hotels. But the government has identified other sectors where it hopes broad-based growth can be developed.

One of those is providing back office IT and call centre services. It is an area that has grown strongly over the last 14 years, says Khan.

‘The ANZ now has about 400 people working in Fiji servicing its Asia-Pacific market and they are looking to grow that,’ he says.

Other call centre companies include Mindpearl, a multi-lingual call centre with 1300 Fiji staff, and the debt-collection agency, Recoveriescorp, which has 400 Fiji staff.

Khan says research indicates that investing companies appreciate Fijians’ high literacy rate, neutral accent, and approach to talking to people.

‘More than 800,000 tourists came to Fiji in 2017.’

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‘When customers found out they were talking to a Fijian, they started talking about their last holiday to Fiji and what a great time they had. It’s a perfect icebreaker.’

Investment

Khan says over the past three years, more than F$1.3 billion (K2 billion) of investment has been earmarked for 269 projects.

Much of this went into the tourism sector. Khan estimates that more than 800,000 tourists came to Fiji in 2017, three fifths from Australia and New Zealand.

Chinese interest is growing fast. Khan notes that in 2016, some 40,000 tourists came from China, a ten-fold increase on 2013 levels.

‘We have 400 hotels in Fiji, a total of 11,000 rooms and 24,000 beds.’

‘We have a number of charter flights from Shanghai and we have direct flights to Hong Kong five times a week, Singapore three times a week and Korea three times a week.

‘We have 400 hotels in Fiji, a total of 11,000 rooms and 24,000 beds. We expect that number to have increased by 4000 by 2025.

Khan says about 30 tourism projects are in the development stage.

‘They include a F$500 million (K800 million) Wyndham resort planned for the Coral Coast over the next five years and a F$300 million (K480 million) Pullman Holiday Inn on Kokomo Island.

‘The newest is a Marriot Hotel on Momi Bay, with 250 rooms “over the water”—a first for Fiji.’

Agriculture and dairy

Tourism is Fiji’s main industry.

Khan says Fiji has about 500,000 hectares of potential farming land.

‘One thing that works for us is our agricultural quarantine processes with New Zealand; we have about 30 commodities that can be shipped to NZ.

‘With Australia, it’s only three or four and this is something we are working on. We produce about 11 to 18 million litres of milk annually. Our domestic needs are about 80 million litres, so there is potential for investment in dairy.

‘We have a population of about 800,000, but when you add in the tourists, you are looking at a market of about 1.7 million when it comes to food, beverages, transportation, and providing essential services.’

‘Textiles is another niche market.’

Khan says Fiji also wants investors to develop its 54,000 hectares of mahogany plantation, 90 per cent of which is unharvested.

Textiles is another niche market, with Fiji providing suits for David Jones stores in Australia, and football jerseys for the Australian Football League and Australia’s National Rugby League.

At present, he says, 60 per cent of energy produced in Fiji comes from renewables.

The government wants it to reach 100 per cent by 2030, which means opportunities exist for independent power producers to build and provide new hydro dams and solar panels.

Tax incentives

Khan says research shows investors are concerned about the cost of utilities, access to land, access to a well qualified labour force, and the level of technology.

‘The country is connected to high-speed internet.’

He notes that Fiji has a literacy rate of 93 per cent and most of the country is connected to high-speed internet.

While investment approval can be done online within five days, ‘second tier approvals processes, such as building permits, and connecting electricity’ are areas Fiji has to work on.

Comments

  1. […] Agriculture in Fiji is limited because of their small land mass and lack of varietals they can grow. PNG and the Solomon Islands have far more potential in agriculture due to their larger land mass, know-how in high yield crops such as coffee, cocoa, palm oil etc, richer soil conditions and better proximity to both Asian and Australian markets.

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