San Francisco, USA - 
Fiji’s Ambassador to the United States, H.E Ilisoni Vuidreketi,
Former Ambassador of the United States to Fiji, H.E Joseph Cella,
Fiji’s Honorary Consul to Los Angeles, Mr Vinod Bhindi,
Fiji’s Honorary Consul to San Francisco, Mr Jay Singh, 
Chairperson Investment Fiji Board, Ms Jenny Seeto,
Members of the United States Chamber of Commerce,
Industry experts and Members of the Fijian Delegation,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Bula Vinaka and a very Good Morning to you all.
It is with great pleasure that I join you all here today to Fiji’s inaugural Business Mission to North America, here at San Francisco.

I would like to acknowledge the organisers of this Mission, our Trade Commission Office for North America Mr Alika Cooper and his team, Investment Fiji and of course our Honorary Consul to San Francisco.

I have been asked and I am sure some of you may wonder, why are we here and what are our objectives?
Purpose of North America Business Mission
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are here with two primary objectives. One is to re-connect and re-engage with our sprawling Diasporaacross North America. We invite them to come back to Fiji and work together in terms of what our Government is trying to achieve in our beautiful country.

The second of course is to promote investments and trade. There has been interest received from US-based investors in respect to tourism, real estate, agriculture, renewable energy, to name a few.

This is reflected with 38 projects valued at FJD $221.7 million registered from the US from 2020. I must admit that these are understated numbers from some of our investors and the value of US registered investments in Fiji might be standing at FJD 400 million.
Our total two way trade was worth FJD $617.81 million prior to the pandemic and stood at FJD 834.28 millionlast year. Fiji’s exports to the United States were worth FJD$476.66 million, which was attributed by exports of mineral and aerated waters, Kava, ginger, turmeric, mahogany, taro.
One of the other things I would like to share to give you some context as to why Fiji will deepen its trade relations with the US. President Biden introduced the Indo- Pacific Economic Framework which consists of 14 countries in the world and represents 40% of global GDP.
As a small island developing state, Fiji now sits at the table with alot of these global powerhouses. It is my expectation to actually ensure that this is not just a verbal agreement but in turns provides us benefits andmore trade and investments into Fiji.
We are heading into the IPEF Ministerial Meeting in June in Singapore to continue the conversations around what can be done for Fiji through our IPEF Partners, like the United States.
Rebuild Fiji
Ladies and Gentlemen,
From my perspective, we need to be proactive. The country that we took over running in December needs a review.
So we are working on a Rebuilding and Re-engineering journey for Fiji, particularly focusing not only the economic architecture of our country but also other challenges relating to infrastructure and socio- economicissues that have plagued our country for a while.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
This Business Mission came at a time of growing interest in Fiji's economic potential. Two of the presentations you will see here today after my small speech will be self- explanatory and will talk about thegrowing industries of Fiji and what we are capable of.

But suffice to say Google is investing in Fiji in establishing a Data Centre and laying new subsea cables linking Fiji to the United States, Australia and Tahiti. This landmark investment solidifies Fiji’s aspirations tobe the regional hub for connectivity and innovation in the Pacific.

If Google is comfortable with Fiji then that is a good enough statement of our capability to attract investments.
We are continuing to take the hard steps of bridging the digital divide. I expect to make some announcementsin terms of connectivity through certain areas. I am told that we have 5% of Fijians that are unconnected andwe need to start the journey of connecting the 5 percent and improving the existing connectivity.
What does it mean in the Rebuild Process - accessibility to these opportunities, more inclusive economic activities since we are reaching out to the rural communities, and that is where we are heading.
A noteworthy initiative being embarked by the Fiji Government together with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is the development of Fiji’s National Digital Strategy.
What does this mean? It means that in the next 5-10 years we will fully automate Fiji Government services and through that process increase productivity, efficiency and accessibility of Fiji Government services to everyone.
In terms of some of our initiatives in the digital space, we are looking at a Cybersecurity Strategy, Artificial Intelligence and digitisation of Fiji’s economy.
There is also a National E-commerce Strategy being developed and in its final stages. We have beenlucky that for a country with a population of less than a million people we have two largest operators in theworld in Fiji namely Vodafone and Telstra.
In terms of e-commerce, the ability to stimulate economic activity all over Fiji has expanded quite rapidly. Through this Strategy we hope to continue the momentum to ensure that trade becomes easier to do.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we “Rebuild Fiji”, we are working towards becoming the destination of trade and investment by choice. We need to create an investor-friendly environment, which is why the Fiji Government is undertaking a number of initiatives under the Ease of Doing Business.
I will continue to say this, it does not matter whether you are a foreign investor or a local investor or wherever you come from, please utilise Investment Fiji as they will make your life easier. Again I urge you allif you are interested in investing in Fiji then talk to Investment Fiji.
Some of the initiatives that we have deployed to make things more easier is the establishment of anInvestment Facilitation Committee. The Investment Facilitation Committee which I Chair this works to address your hurdles and facilitate your investment process. Investment Fiji’s role was transition from being a regulator to an investment facilitator.
In translating our Visions into actions, 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.
What this means is that through a click of a button you can “Start a Business” from anywhere, making yourexperience much easier. We would then start automating the construction approval process.
We have a businessNOW portal which was recently launched 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.
We remain committed in our work to enable Fiji to become a desired investment proposition.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In “Re-engineering Fiji”, we have established a Commercial Agriculture Taskforce to support diversification and expansion. This taskforce is focused on bringing in investors into the Agriculture sector and hopefully expand into Aquaculture, as well. We need to be innovative and generate new opportunities for potential investors to contribute to the sustainable growth of our economy.

You would have heard about my announcement that the Kava Bill is back on the table. We are workingtogether with the Kava Taskforce to genuinely drive the Kava industry. This is a critical priority for my Ministry and like everything we need to have the right legislative framework and we are committed to building the Kava industry.

Furthermore, you also may have heard about Medicinal Cannabis which would be for export only. We do have some investors that are interested and this portrays our desire to diversify the Fijian economy.

Another initiative to re-engineer our economy is to focus on our Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). We will try and ensure that we will have a comprehensive eco-system that supports MSMEs in July.

We have some MSMEs in the room with us today. One of the great things about our MSMEs is their level of innovation which is their driving point of difference. For instance, we have Kavalicious who has diversified its product into Kava biscuits and so forth.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
There is a lot more that I can say of the initiatives that Fiji Government is undertaking as we Rebuild our architecture. To the rest of the world, there are opportunities available in Fiji for agriculture, manufacturing, outsourcing, to name a few.
With these few words, I trust that today’s deliberations and presentations from our experts will entice you to consider Fiji as your first choice for investment.
I thank you all for your attention.

Thank you. Vinaka Vakalevu.