President and Chief Executive Officer, Surrey Bo rd of Trade, Ms Anita Huberman,
Fiji’s Honorary Consul to Canada, Mr Bobby Nai ker,
Chairperson Investment Fiji Board, Ms Jenny See o,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Bula Vinaka and a very Good Morning to you all.

I am delighted to join you in today’s momentous occasion as we gather for Fiji’s inaugural Trade and Investment Mission to North America.

At the outset, I wish to pay my respects to the past and present Elders of the Original Peoples of the lands and territories on which we are gathered here today.

I also extend my appreciation to the Surrey Board of Trade for coordinating this Forum together with our Trade Commission Office for North America  nd Investment Fiji.

Our presence here today is not merely symbolic, it is a testament to our shared commitment to fostering economic growth and development. We offer numerous investment opportunities and incentives which you could tap into in areas such as BPO, health, ICT, Manufacturing, agriculture, to name a few.

The important role of investments in the development of any country, such as Fiji cannot be emphasised enough. Investments, whether domestic or foreign is merely a lifeblood of economic and social progress for our people and our economy.

This is why the Fijian Government is working towards translating our words and vision into concrete action that bears tangible benefits and in-turn benefits us all.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It comes as no surprise that one of our primary objectives of this Mission is to promote investment in Fiji. Over the years, we have seen a growing interest from Canada-based investors in areas related to tourism, real estate, agriculture and renewable energy. For instance, since 2022, 4 projects on tourism, retail and ICT with a proposed value of $3.2 million were registered in Fiji from Canadian investors. This demonstrates the confidence that Canadian businesses have in Fiji's economic prospects.

On the trade front, prior to the pandemic, our total two way trade was worth $69.97 million. Fiji exports to Canada were worth $15.58 million last year, largely underpinned by exports of mineral and aeated waters, ginger, fresh produce and mahogany.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Fiji is an ideal place to become the destination of trade and investment by choice. This is why we are undertaking proactive initiatives in our quest to “Rebuild Fiji” and attract investors by creating a conducive environment for businesses to flourish. With an aim to boost investment in our country, Investment Fiji’s role was revamped to become an Investment and Trade Promotion Agency. This strategic move aims to serve both foreign and domestic investors with a clear vision for growth.

The Investment Facilitation Committee was established to effectively address issues hindering investment activities in Fiji and at the same time streamline the investment process, as well.

A critical agenda for the Fijian economy is the Ease of doing business. We have invested in a Fiji Integrated Licenses and Permits Approvals system (FILPAS) which would provide 25 e-services of 16 different agencies on a single platform. Like I said earlier, we need to translate our visions into concrete actions if we are to Rebuild Fiji.

Similarly, the businessNOW portal was recently launched and serves as Fiji's go-to hub for entrepreneurs and investors, simplifying the process of starting a business and allowing for seamless interaction with various Government agencies. Therefore, our commitment to facilitating a seamless and
investor-friendly business environment remains fm. We are dedicated to continuous reforms to achieve streamlined and efficient processes for our investors and the Fijian economy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
In addition, we have established a Commercial Agriculture Taskforce which looks at improving Fiji’s agricultural productivity and creating new opportunities for potential investors which would contribute to the sustainable growth of our economy.

As the Minister responsible for Communications, I believe that we need to seize every opportunity to re-engineer our Fiji through the effective use of technologies. We need to connect the remaining 5% of unconnected Fijians so as to ensure our people’s access to digital services and financial inclusion harness digitization for inclusive development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Now turning back to today’s Forum, I am proud to be joined by our exporters in this mission. Each of these companies before you bring a unique perspective to the table, covering a spectrum of sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, outsourcing, and tourism.

The presence of these exporters highlights the critical importance of fostering connections and platforms for businesses. In an increasingly interconnected global economy, access to international markets is paramount for exporters to expand their reach, diversify their customer base, and capitalize on emerging opportunities. Participating in missions such as this, provides our exporters with a unique platform to showcase their products and services, forge strategic partnerships, and gain invaluable insights into global trends and consumer preferences.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am also here to strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation between our two nations. Fiji and Canada share a long history of partnership and collaboration, and hope that we can build on this foundation to create a brighter future for generations to come. Most importantly, we must not lose sight of our connections with our own diaspora, no matter how far we are spread across the globe. We need to reconnect with our diaspora who can contribute back to our economy through investments, knowledge and skills.

As we embark on this journey together, let us remember that our success is measured by the impact we bring, lives we improve, the communities we empower, and the opportunities we create for our people.

Finally, I wish to extend heartfelt appreciation to everyone whose hard work and efforts have made  this event possible.

With these few words, we hope today’s deliberations will entice businesses and investors to consider Fiji as their first choice for investment.

Thank you. Vinaka vakalevu.