Kamal Chetty is the Chief executive Officer of Investment Fiji, the country’s lead economic development agency, that facilitates investment and exports. In this exclusive interview with the Australia Fiji Business Council’s newsletter editor Dev Nadkarni, Kamal talks about the government’s plans to stimulate inward investment from Australia, on the reforms being undertaken, the opportunities for investment and why Australian businesses must invest in Fiji. The interview comes at an opportune time as the council prepares to host the 27th annual Australia Fiji Business Forum in late August in Sydney, which two Deputy Prime Ministers will be addressing.
On the government’s plans to facilitate inward investment into Fiji from Australia:
The Fiji government has introduced several major policy initiatives to enhance and facilitate inward investment from Australia. These initiatives aim to improve the ease of doing business and attract both foreign and domestic investors. One significant step was the enactment of the Investment Act 2021, which eliminated the issuance of Foreign Investment Registration Certificates (FIRC). This move streamlined the investment process and made it more convenient for businesses in Fiji.
In 2022, Fiji adopted the Investment Fiji Act, which redefined the role of Investment Fiji from a regulator of foreign investors to a promotion agency for attracting investment from both local and foreign sources.
To incentivise investment, the government has implemented tax measures such as tax holidays, Tax Free Zones, and lower import duties in specific sectors. These measures aim to encourage businesses to invest in Fiji and contribute to its economic growth. Additionally, the government has made efforts to improve the business registration and approval process by developing an online platform called “businessNOW Fiji.” This platform enables businesses to register and obtain necessary approvals from government departments more efficiently, reducing the time required for these processes.
On reforms the government is implementing to boost investment:
In terms of reforms, the government has worked on enhancing the Act and Policies related to investment and ease of doing business, including the Immigration Act. These reforms aim to create a more favourable environment for businesses, both local and foreign, to operate in Fiji.
Furthermore, Fiji has partnered with international organisations such as the World Bank Group to support its recovery and resilience efforts in the face of challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic and cyclones. The World Bank Group has pledged support for large-scale initiatives worth over US$300 million, focusing on areas such as tourism, financial systems reform, healthcare, affordable housing, renewable energy, and gender equality. This collaboration aims to strengthen Fiji’s economy and attract investment in sectors crucial for its development.
In addition to government initiatives, Fiji has implemented several programs based in the country to attract Australian investment. The Fiji-Australia Institutional Partnerships Program (IPP) aims to enhance the business environment by providing technical assistance, strengthening the legal framework, and promoting trade and investment between Fiji and Australia. The Market Development Facility (MDF) offers financial and technical support to Fijian businesses exporting to Australia and New Zealand, facilitating their entry into the Australian market and attracting Australian investment.
The Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP) provides financing for infrastructure projects in the Pacific region, including Fiji. These projects have not only created employment opportunities but also improved the overall investment climate in Fiji, making it an attractive destination for foreign investors. Moreover, the Vuvale Partnership, established in 2016, aims to strengthen economic and security ties between Fiji and Australia. This partnership includes initiatives such as the establishment of a business advisory council and joint investment promotion campaigns to encourage Australian investment in Fiji.
On sectors that Fiji has identified for inward investment:
Investment Fiji identifies various sectors with opportunities for Australian investors, including both traditional and emerging sectors. According to their Strategic Plan 2022-2023, Australia is considered one of the top recommended markets for foreign direct investment (FDI) and trade. The priority sectors for investment, along with their sub-sectors, are as follows:
- Tourism including sports and medical tourism.
- Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Information Technology Outsourcing (ITO), and Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO).
- Manufacturing – clothing, footwear, and other apparel and accessories.
- Food & Agriculture – cropping, fisheries, breweries, and distilleries.
- Healthcare – pharmaceuticals, medicinal and botanical products, and dental services.
Investment Fiji recommends tourism, manufacturing, and outsourcing as the top sectors for Australian investors in terms of FDI. In terms of trade, manufacturing and mining are the top recommended markets. Fiji also targets specific export products for the Australian market, including precious stones, aluminum, copper, clothing, rubber products, paper, and paperboard.
On why Australian businesses must invest in Fiji:
Australian businesses are invited to invest in Fiji, which is strategically located nation in the South Pacific that offers a favourable business environment and abundant growth opportunities. Fiji ensures a stable political environment and is committed to sustainable foreign and domestic investment projects. The government has implemented business-friendly policies, including tax incentives and streamlined regulations, to support further development. Fiji’s diverse sectors such as Tourism, Agriculture, ICT, Manufacturing, and Healthcare make it an ideal investment destination. The country boasts well-developed infrastructure, including airports, sea ports, and reliable telecommunication, along with a high literacy rate, creating a conducive environment for business. Investment Fiji provides comprehensive support and guidance to potential investors, ensuring a streamlined process for overcoming hurdles and navigating regulatory requirements. Australian investors are encouraged to explore the vast opportunities in Fiji and consider expanding their operations in the country. Investment Fiji is ready to assist interested investors in starting new ventures in Fiji.