Opportunities for business in reopened Fiji and Solomon Islands


With key Pacific economies such as Fiji and the Solomon Islands now opened up after COVID, what opportunities do they offer Papua New Guinea-based businesses, and what are the keys to success? Some experts provide their insights.

Many Papua New Guinea companies already have business interests elsewhere in the Pacific. The re-opening after COVID of Fiji and Solomon Islands in particular provides business with the opportunity to reappraise these markets.

An expert panel assembled at the recent 2022 Business Advantage Papua New Guinea Investment Conference to cover just this topic.


One notable recent development has been increase in attention paid to Pacific countries due to geopolitical tensions.

‘The Pacific is now well and truly part of that geopolitical contest for influence among the larger powers: primarily, the US and China,’ says Mihai Sora, Research Fellow at the Lowy Institute’ Pacific Islands Program, who suggests this is an issue businesses can’t afford to ignore.

‘Getting on a plane is really important at the moment.’

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‘Businesses … need to be aware of the global dynamics and how they manifest in our region … The risk is [that a] business is seen to be partisan one way or another, or have their opportunities become entangled.’

How does a company manage that risk?

‘My answer would be: set a good example. If you’re delivering something to the market … deliver something that also generates a social good. If you have local relationships, you can navigate between these political forces.’

Solomon Islands

The site for the Pacific Games in Honiara this week. Credit: Adrian Weeks/Austrade

While the Solomon Islands, which only reopened its borders on 1 August, may be ‘a focal point’ for geopolitics, Mora is keen to emphasise the positive opportunities that can flow from the geopolitical situation.

‘Countries like the Solomons … can benefit from this increased attention.’

Adrian Weeks is Austrade’s Senior Trade Commissioner for both PNG and the Solomon Islands. Now that the Solomons’ borders have reopened, he observes, ‘we’re starting to see projects come back online, particularly the larger projects’, such Solomon Water’s water supply upgrades, and road, port and aviation infrastructure projects.

‘The next probably biggest project, which is well underway but will deliver across many services and infrastructure, is the Pacific Games for 2023.’

He says that for business to be successful in the Solomons and elsewhere in the Pacific, they need accept ‘the need for face-to-face contact, the importance of events, connecting again with your partners or government. Getting on a plane is really important at the moment.’

Fiji makes it easier

The Fiji Trade Commission’s Daniel Stow

Over in Fiji, which reopened in December 2021, the country has made amendments to its Investment Act, according to Daniel Stow, Trade Commissioner at the Fiji Trade Commission in Sydney.

‘Now, Fiji will not make a difference whether you are a foreign or domestic investor, the process will simply be the same,’ he said. ‘The process has been centralised into a portal called the bizfiji portal, so you can go there are register your company, register for tax and are ready to go in 48 hours.’

While Stow says tourist numbers will rebound to 50 per cent of pre-COVID levels by the end of this year, there is a focus on developing other parts of Fiji’s economy. He cites the tax holidays available to manufacturers and notes Fiji has set aside 25 per cent of its land for commercial agriculture.

‘We are trying to transition from sustenance farming to more commercial farming. There are lots of opportunities for … companies to bring into Fiji the expertise, technology and machinery to help aid that.’

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