People’s Charter Pillar 11 (Global and International Relations: For Discussion
ENHANCING GLOBAL INTEGRATION AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Critical Problems and Issues:
· In the wake of successive coups since 1987, Fiji’s image internationally is that it is a country prone to a “coup culture”, lawlessness and bad governance.
· One of our neighbour countries has described Fiji as a “pariah state”, a label that has the power to inflict disastrous consequences upon us as a nation.
· We are challenged to regain our rightful place in the international family of nations.
The Way Forward:
The following key measures and actions must be taken with due priority and urgency :
- Strengthen local capacity including the participation of the private sector, to engage in the global trading system.
- Enhance existing bilateral and multilateral relations.
- Improve investment, trade facilitation and negotiation capacity.
- Advocate Fiji’s interest in regional and international institutions such as Pacific Islands Forum, the Commonwealth, and the United Nations.
State of the Nation Report. Chapter 9 : Enhancing Global Integration and International Relations
Fiji’s engagement in the international arena has been challenging given our smallness and isolation from major trading partners. This engagement has been seriously constrained since the coups of 1987.
Since 5 December 2006, Fiji’s relationship with both its bilateral and multilateral partners have been under pressure. Fiji’s relationship with some neighbouring nations remain strained, and with the continued stringent application of sanctions such as the travel ban,
Fiji’s efforts to restore confidence and to revive investment and growth in the economy are proving difficult. The situation is also exacerbated by adverse global developments such as fuel price increases and food supply shortages. The restoration of parliamentary democracy is pivotal to the resumption of normal relations. Fiji therefore, needs to move forward with due urgency and speed to adopt the necessary reform of its electoral system in order for elections to be held as soon as practicable. Therefore, an urgency to address our relationship with the global family through the following actions are necessary.
The immediate challenge is for Fiji to regain its lost credibility. Foreign policies of Government need to focus on commitment in restoring relationship with the global family through returning to true democracy and proactive participation in the international fora, respecting the provisions of international treaties to which Fiji is a party, and fostering mutually beneficial bilateral and multilateral diplomatic relations.
For Multilateral and Bilateral Engagement, increasing integration with the global economy is an essential element in response to the challenge of globalisation. As a small island open economy prone to natural disasters, and given its geographical location, it is important for Fiji to strengthen its bilateral or multilateral relationship with other countries to further develop its trade and enjoy maximum opportunities in terms of available assistance. Furthermore, with the increasing number of trade agreements with which Fiji must comply, Fiji needs to undertake some housekeeping within its periphery in order to effectively engage with its bilateral and multilateral partners. Some of the assistance available with well developed bilateral and multilateral partners are currently not fully utilised by Fiji.
There is a need to access Aid for Trade 16 from willing donor countries to assist Fiji build its trade capacity and infrastructure, to benefit from trade opening. Most ‘Aid for Trade’ is disbursed bilaterally by donors, or through multilateral and regional finance and development organisations such as the World Bank and the regional development banks.
Fiji’s foreign missions need to play a proactive role in regard to tapping opportunities for Fiji to supply labour. This is one of the priority areas due to the expected benefits to the country as a whole from remittances.
Aid for Trade by definition is aid that finances trade related activities. It involves the flow of financed from rich to poor countries for the purpose of enhancing the world trading system.
As for Effective Engagement, the global trading environment has become increasingly complex. This complexity is most obvious for those countries that have joined the WTO, with its multiplicity of rules, obligations, processes and negotiating groups, but all are affected to a greater or lesser degree. Technical standards and other requirements for market entry are becoming increasingly demanding. As a result of this increasing complexity the cost of participation in the global economy, in terms of both human andfinancial resources, is escalating for Fiji to the point where there is a growing risk that these increasing costs of participation may outpace the potential benefits.
Trade facilitation in the areas of quarantine protocols, customs, ports and immigration are to be strengthened. Complementary to this, personnel with backgrounds in areas of trade, trade negotiations and investment need to be recruited to serve in Fiji’s foreign missions.
The need to enhance our border control is important, especially as terrorism is also a major threat to the region. While there has been little evidence to suggest terrorists or terrorist organisations are present or active in the region, the Pacific environment is one which ultimately may be attractive to such activities. This attraction may arise if the region is seen to be ‘soft’ in relation to managing its international borders, particularly at a time when other regions and countries have placed strict and stringent control over their borders.
Since Independence, Fiji has opened its doors to establishing relationship with other nations, in general to establish trade and diplomatic relationship with the outside world.
However, since then, with increasing globalisation and trade liberalisation, Fiji has been too slow to adapt to the waves of change, particularly in the trading environment occurring around and within the global family. This tardiness has cost the country in terms of lost opportunities and benefits foregone.