Pacific Islands Regional Busines Council Address

"Creating Regional Economic Growth through Integration" Address by Minister for Industry and Trade Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Monday 20 June 2011, Radisson Resort Fiji.

Main points: • All agreements must most benefit the weaker parties • PACER plus will have minimum benefits with Fiji excluded • Get existing agreements working before PACER plus • Expand relationships beyond tradional parties

Bula Vinaka and a Good morning.

This forum provides an immense opportunity to examine existing and future
opportunities in our markets, as well as examine how business can be
improved and increased within existing arrangements.

The onus is both on governments and businesses to use existing opportunities
to the optimum and to develop and take advantage of new prospects, learning
from shortcomings in the past.

I note from the convening note for this conference that the focus is on the
current PACER Plus negotiations, and the challenges and potential it may
provide for regional integration.

Fiji, as you know, was illegally excluded and has therefore chosen not to
participate in these negotiations.  I will not dwell on the well-known
reasons for this. Without knowing the form and content of PACER Plus
negotiations, nor the likely shape of the outcome of these negotiations, I
am not going to attempt to gaze into the crystal ball to tell you how any
eventual agreement will benefit you, or the region.

What I will say is this: any agreement that excludes a vital regional
economy such as the Fijian economy will be an ineffective instrument for
trade and development in the region. Its benefits and opportunities will
also be limited. My message to PACER Parties is that there is no point
negotiating trade agreements for the sake of negotiating a trade agreement.
We do not and should not measure our success in trade and business
opportunities by the number of empty and ineffective trade agreements we
sign.

We must measure these by the quality of such agreements - agreements which
drive growth and development; agreements which are determined by a true
analysis of costs and benefits: and, agreements which are implemented with
ease at both the technical and political levels.

As regards PACER Plus, Fiji certainly cannot accept that it would be asked
to accede, or to join negotiations at an advanced stage, without having a
say on all aspects of the package. Without Fiji's regulators, policy-makers
and negotiators being involved in entire process of PACER Plus negotiations,
from beginning to the conclusion, we can safely assume that this agreement
will not serve the interests of Fijian businesses or the Fijian people.
Indeed one could argue that it would accordingly not serve the interest of
the rest of the Pacific parties.

Ladies and Gentlemen, you will hear today from a number of people ideally
placed to tell you the merits and pitfalls of economic integration, and in
particular what the minimum and maximum opportunities and challenges are
inherent in the PACER Plus negotiations. In my view, it is really quite
simple - any regional economic integration effort, be it a wide ranging
agreement covering goods, services (including movement of labour), or be it
a simple trade in goods only agreement, must benefit the weakest party in
the agreement the most. An agreement where an already economically mighty
partner gains more than those still striving to develop their economies
defies not only logic, but is also contrary to the objective and principles
of the WTO and the multilateral trading system that strives to encourage
free and fair trade as a tool to alleviate poverty.

I alluded earlier to the implementation of agreements as giving value to the
paper on which the agreements are signed. Let me now be specific in this
regard. We have a number of key regional and sub-regional trade agreements
within the region that are relevant to the audience here today, chief
amongst which are the Pacific Islands Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) and
the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement (MSGTA). Fiji is of the view
that the focus should be on proper implementation of these agreements first,
before looking to expand them to other areas, and certainly before
negotiating with partners much more advanced than ourselves.

At the moment, for example, the MSG Trade Agreement is not being fully
implemented, with Parties not having fulfilled their domestic procedures to
undertake requisite tariff reductions, and seemingly not pushing for this to
be done. Given that we have not successfully implemented a sub-regional
trade agreement that has been in existence for 15 years, how can we then be
talking about negotiating a new agreement with more developed partners?
Similarly the PICTA, an Agreement amongst the 14 Pacific Island Countries,
was signed almost 10 years ago and yet there has not been any measurable
trade under this agreement. How can we expect the PICs to open up their
markets to Australia and New Zealand or the EU when they cannot open up
amongst themselves? Fiji is an advocate of the "stepping stone approach" and
the notion that "charity begins at home". As such Fiji will continue to
advocate the proper implementation of existing regional and sub-regional
agreements to gain benefits from these rather than focusing on negotiating
new agreements with dubious benefits.

Ladies and gentlemen, we look forward to working with the business community
to ensure that any further work we do on regional integration is guided by
your needs, as well as the needs of the consumers and wider citizenry of
Fiji, so that whatever arrangements we put in place serve to build a Better
Fiji for All.

I see from the programme that your concluding session is how business can
guide governments on the journey to regional economic integration. I trust
that during your deliberations leading up to that concluding session, you
will not be looking only at how government can take into account your needs,
but also examine how you are contributing to sustainable economic growth by
undertaking the steps necessary to benefit from what is already in place.

Again in relation to your programme today, I see that there will be some
discussion on expanding opportunities for trade in services, and using
labour as a tool of growth. Negotiations on services, ladies and gentleman,
are intricately technical negotiations. One negotiates not just whether to
allow, for example, foreign firms to establish a presence in the country,
but also under what conditions, and what requirements there will be for such
a firm. These technical areas are part of the requirements by the WTO to
make a services agreement compatible with its rules.

The point, ladies and gentlemen, is to emphasise the need for the various
services sector associations and bodies to engage with government at the
level of detail required to reach negotiating positions that are technically
sound, and beneficial to that sector and to the country as a whole. It is
not sufficient to say that you want deregulation or the opening up of a
services sector in the country; you need to be able to work with our
services experts to work out how to frame the request to any government.
Whether for services or for goods, government needs to partner our private
sector actors in these negotiations in order to take a holistic approach,
examining which markets are attracting a sufficient quantum of interest from
the business community.

Integration can be achieved in many ways. Fiji is expanding its horizons by
looking to deepen relations with other partners, and to create business
opportunities even outside of formal integration agreements. As you know, we
successfully opened an Embassy in Indonesia on 06 April 2011. The
Pacific-Indonesia Update 2011 that was organised in conjunction with the
opening of the Embassy has already resulted in new business partnerships
between Fiji and Indonesia, with at least one company now purchasing raw
materials for its manufacturing process from an Indonesian firm. We look
forward to facilitating further such collaboration between the business
communities through mechanisms such as this, and through visits of potential
investors to Fiji.

At the policy end, Fiji has just signed, on 27 May 2011, a Development
Cooperation Agreement with Indonesia that will facilitate cooperation in,
inter alia, trade and investment, tourism, transport and technical
cooperation. Fiji is excited about the opportunities this agreement will
afford for forging stronger ties with Indonesia, as a means, in the theme of
today's seminar - to promote regional economic growth.

Fiji unilaterally, if you like has provided the platform for integration at
an informal level. It has liberalised its economy and concomitantly
positioned itself as a regional facilitator for businesses and business
opportunities.

The reduced corporate tax rates for companies listed in the South Pacific
Stock exchange, the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector
including regional hubbing; the modernizing of laws and processes; the
relaxation of rules for foreign investment thresholds; the relaxation of
restricted or reserved sectors for foreign investment; capturing the
appropriate tariffs allowing for private sector participation for example in
the energy sector; now allowing multiple citizenship; appropriate duty
rates;  tax incentives in various localities and sectors; and, transparency
in processes, all create that platform for informal integration.

These examples, ladies and gentlemen, confirm that there are different forms
of regional integration, which can be effectively tailored to deliver
tangible benefits to the economy and the citizens. We need to continue to
work together - government, businesses and society as a whole - to ensure
that we base our economic agenda on models of integration that serves our
citizens, and look for all creative solutions to achieve our goals.

Ladies and Gentlemen I wish you all thought-provoking and solution-oriented
discussions today. Do take advantage of the expertise of the speakers you
will hear from. I look forward to hearing about the conclusions of your
debate. I now have much pleasure in declaring open your conference.

Vinaka Vaka Levu, Thank you.
--No:1303) /AG.

Comments

Anonymous said…
He may as well said...

"you are wasting your time here today because you are nothing without Fiji. Anything you do without us is a waste of time and because you have failed to kneel before us we now won't particpate even if given the opportunity later. We remember all who have failed to acknowlege and stroke our ego. We are the light and the truth. You need Fiji and Fiji is not going to play with you because you fail to recognise our importance and the super leadership and vison we have. I wish you all a great waste of time. Wake up and recognise Fiji and me as being more important than all of this"

Childish ramblings of a man with a even bigger chip on his shoulder than a few former PM's....
Anonymous said…
Croz,

If you can get a hold of it ANZ big boss for the Pacific Rolands gave a speach at the same meeting today. It was useful and practical and without the venom of our AGs.

He talked about the service industry being a important sector and opportunity for the Pacific.

And things stopping investment - consistent, transparent legal systems (don't change the law every day please), taxation and profit remittance (we need to know we can take profit out at some point, business in not charity) and constructive engagement with business community.
A trifle passé? said…
Are the emperor's clothes ( minus the tie) beginning to appear more than a trifle passé? Frayed and worn around the cuffs? This is a common occurrence when a narrow field of learning is exposed to global economic concerns and pressures which demand a hands on history of managing a Bottom Line. No one in this Set Up has managed a bottom line with any measure of demonstrated success. A Plimsoll line perhaps but that is another kettle of fish.
Roller Coaster rides said…
How do.you engage constructively with a Business Community if you are singularly ill equipped to get what business needs and requires - honest business that is? Venture capitalists are by nature creative and often swashbuckling types who play cricket and rugby and sport single figure handicaps at Golf. Why? Because this is what job - creating, imaginative entrepreneurship takes. It also requires a stable climate of risk mitigation and management. Not what is on offer now: roller coaster rides into.........Armageddon with jobs flying through the safety bars.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Anonymous 1 ... Excuse the language. Bunkum.
@ Anonymous 2. Thanks. I'll try to obtain the Rolands paper. I didn't find Khaiyum's words venomous but perhaps you read something into his manner. The words were exactly as I would have expected from anyone seeking to protect Fiji's position. Like it or not, Fiji is pivotal in all regional relationships, whatever the government.
@ A Trifle ... I like your mataphors.
No honesty No integrity said…
To call this a 'regional meeting' is as absurd as saying the MSG is currently a functioning entity?
Proud Fijian said…
The anti interim governement movement in my opinion will not be able to do much until election in 2014. This despite Michael Field's attempted prediction of another coup - albeit one in slow motion.

The Democracy Movement in Australia has appointed a Raju Singh into its committe and states that is a strategic move to attract more Indo-Fijian support. It is ironic that it were the same racist people (evidenced by Kaitani and others racist outbursts against IndoFijians on Matavuvale.com)

It is my belief that the Bainimarama governemnt will be in power until the election in 2014.

Before the escape of Roko Ului the srategy of the FDFM was to provoke protests in Fiji. We remember that there were calls on Matavuvale to bring cameras and record violence that were going to be committed by the armed forces in Fiji during a planned march. Nothing eventuated in this failed attempt to emulate the protests and topppling of Regimes in the middle east.

It now appears that the new strategy is to try and cripple Fiji's economy by increased sanctions. Australia, New Zealand appear to be colluding with Samoa and Tonga to this end. Today McCully was visiting Vanuatu and planned to visit the Solomons and PNG. It is very likely that Fiji was a subject of discussion.

It now appears that the current Vanuatu PM may not be the legitimate PM despite the vote of no confidence of Natapei. Natapei was criticial in the delay to Fiji's MSG chairmanship - is likely to get back into power.

Does this mean that Australia and New Zealand are trying to get at the MSG since they have lost hold of the Pacific forum? Very likely.

The Samoan prime minister (concurring) with Roko Ului to increase sanctions on Fiji and therefore isolate and create internal upheavel in Fiji.

I cannot understand as to why Aus, NZ, Samoa and Tonga would do this unless they have something to gain. It is not about Fijis Democracy. It is about Australias bid for UN security council. Time is running out for Australia to get south Pacific nations votes. Fijis recent moves in the MSG is a problem for Australia. Not the lack of an elected government per se.

There has been some postings on Matavuvale and coup4.5 for people to come up with statements if they have been abused by the military and even for Felix Anthony to make one.

This strategy appears to be an attempt to charge Bainimarama and others for Human Rights abuse in the ICC. The only thing is the people who have been reported as carrying out this abuses are now out of the army - Driti and Mara.
The abuses appears to be isolated incidences carried out by individuals without a direct order from the Regime. The Human Rights abuses in Eastern Europe, Middle East and Central Africa were systematic and orchestrated. In my opinion this will not even reach the ICC.

It will be interesting to see what happens.
bank speak said…
Fiji Times have a little bit on what Roland said at the meeting. Fiji has consistently changed tax and profit remitance rules again and again without consultation. Roland is being polite, what he really means is if we where not already heavily invested in Fiji we would not conisder it.

CEO talks investment
Elenoa Baselala
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

THE Pacific must be investment-friendly if it wants growth in investments and sustainable ventures, says ANZ Pacific chief executive officer Michael Rowland.

Speaking at the Australian Islands Business Council Conference at the Radisson Resort yesterday, Mr Rowland said investors would not bring their money and institutions like ANZ wouldn't support foreign customers investing unless the environment was supportive.

Mr Rowland's comments come as Fiji grapples with an excess liquidity of over $0.5 billion as well as revelations that the investment gap last year was $574 million. Of the $591m proposed projects, only $17m was implemented.

He said a supportive business environment included consistent and transparent legal and social systems and processes, certainty around government policy particularly taxation and profit remittance.

"Provided there are clear and consistent policies in place, we believe the opportunity to grow services trade in the Pacific lies in financial services, tourism, back office processing, telecommunications and labour hire," Mr Rowland said.

"For countries that achieve this regulatory environment, we believe the value of services and international trade of services will grow and financial services will become an increasingly important international business."

Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Barry Whiteside recently said investment levels in Fiji were well below the 25 per cent target.

While there was still large investment interest in Fiji, Mr Whiteside said we needed to nurture this to implementation. He said we must grow the economy, speed up structural reforms, create an environment conducive to investment, maintain law and order and continue to promote a sound financial system.
Anonymous said…
It's pretty childish of the AG to complain about not being included in the negotiations then say even if he is invited he won't participate.

If that is the case stop complianing about it.
In the Kingdom of the blind the one-eyed Man is King? said…
@ Proud Fijian

Of course a seat on the Security Council will feature under the radar in this jockeying for prominence of some kind. We all know that? But, the economy of Fiji will not wait for peevish, piqued and infantile responses especially in a public forum. The economy of Fiji requires careful administration and nurturing by people who know that People Count (they pay the taxes that fuel government and they also pay the wages and salaries). If there are no jobs and people are unable to pay tax (let alone FNPF), companies fail and despite this further Wages Council Orders are imposed to ensure this failure, what has been achieved of benefit to anyone? This is an example of the blind leading the half blind and attempting to appear full-sighted.

Massaging egos happens everywhere in the political sphere: it always ends in tears.
Time to See Straight said…
"In the Valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is King"

(H.G. Wells)

but

The Bible has this to add:

"If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch"

(Matthew 15:14)
jambalaya said…
@In the kingdom

This Pacer Plus is dead on arrival in Fiji and the prime reason it is being pushed is that the Pacific trade deals is the critical hinge pin on Trans-Pacific-Partnership (TPP) which ANZ have their budget projections on.

As for your comment "But, the economy of Fiji will not wait for peevish, piqued and infantile responses especially in a public forum."

The economy can wait. It is this false dilemma and the time constraints that grass roots should be extremely wary of. It is akin to the pushy confidence people who manipulate the people that there is no alternative to their solution and they need to hurry up and sign on the bottom line. Buyer beware!!

In the kingdom wrote:
"Massaging egos happens everywhere in the political sphere: it always ends in tears."

Just take a look at the European zone, and the riots in Greece, Spain over the austerity plans brought about by these conniving free-traders who had sold the single European currency as the be all and end all to their problems. Enough tears for ya?

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/greece-buys-time-as-government-survives-confidence-vote-2300807.html

It is not the economy of Fiji which the Free-trade movement are worried about. It is their own economy and time is of the essence to cement their free trade paradigm and then shove the common Pacific currency through (as advocated by the Samoans), claiming it is a prerequisite for optimum trading in the region.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/south-pacific/5137154/Samoa-calls-for-common-Pacific-currency

Once common Pacific currency comes in, the next step single Pacific Government (under Pacific Forum) in lieu of New World Order and their designs for a One world Government.

Fiji is just standing in the way of their crooked and vile machinations.

No Fiji involvement, No Pacer Plus, No TPP. No Common Pacific Currency, No New World Order.
Them & US! said…
@ jambalaya

So, "the economy can wait" ? Which planet are you living on? The giveaway in your post is "grassroots". An absolute demonstration of the "we know best" mentality from which Fiji has suffered for more than twenty years. You do not necessarily know better or best. You are unable satisfactorily or demonstrably to show that this is so. By stifling cogent and reasonable argument an obvious weakness is revealed to all and sundry. The use of tags is yet again on the rise? The grassroots have been 'labelled' too often to permit this again. 'Them and Us' is no longer good enough. Just like the economy!
Why look over the horizon? said…
@ Jambalaya:

Who is speaking of vile machinations now? No need to look over the horizon. They are still underway here!
jambalaya said…
@Them & US said:

"So, "the economy can wait" ? Which planet are you living on? The giveaway in your post is "grassroots". An absolute demonstration of the "we know best" mentality from which Fiji has suffered for more than twenty years".

Giveaway? the grassroots tags? maybe you should rephrase that in English.

According to your logic, Fiji should approve of Pacer-Plus and Pacific common currency, Pacific Union of Government in a heart beat. Fiji can just kiss good bye to her independence and we can all turn in our blue passports and Fiji currency.

Them & US continued:

"You do not necessarily know better or best. You are unable satisfactorily or demonstrably to show that this is so. By stifling cogent and reasonable argument an obvious weakness is revealed to all and sundry".

I did not claim to know better or best. I'll admit that I did not "satisfactory demonstrate that", because it is not an examination where I was expected to write a 1500 word essay on the topic.

I did not stifle an argument that was neither cogent nor reasonable.

The gist of my comments were related to the accelerated pace driven by the likes of Aust/NZ, which had benefited from a divided Fiji in the last 20 years which you alluded to.

What about that common Pacific currency or TPP, Pacer plus intersect?

@Why look over the horizon said

"Who is speaking of vile machinations now? No need to look over the horizon. They are still underway here!"

The vile machinations are in reference to PACER Plus and other nation busting policies that are being instigated over the horizon ala Aust/NZ and maybe beyond.

That is the topic of consideration isn't it?
Safe pairs of hands said…
Don't you love German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? Two powerful and influential women who know "what's what". Merkel has just made it clear that on a Greek bailout "there is no Plan B". So, the Greeks had better knuckle down? They have for years lived beyond their means, failed to restructure and reform and their public sector is overblown and quite unable to deliver. Clinton thinks on the hoof and carefully feels her way through minefields, successfully in the main. Neither give the impression that anyone else must write speeches for them (though they may). They are competent and able and they do not need to prove to anyone that they alone have a monopoly of the best way to do things. This inspires confidence in safe pairs of hands. Vital in hard times.
Safe pairs of hands said…
Don't you love German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? Two powerful and influential women who know "what's what". Merkel has just made it clear that on a Greek bailout "there is no Plan B". So, the Greeks had better knuckle down? They have for years lived beyond their means, failed to restructure and reform and their public sector is overblown and quite unable to deliver. Clinton thinks on the hoof and carefully feels her way through minefields, successfully in the main. Neither give the impression that anyone else must write speeches for them (though they may). They are competent and able and they do not need to prove to anyone that they alone have a monopoly of the best way to do things. This inspires confidence in safe pairs of hands. Vital in hard times.
Global Gathering Clouds said…
@ jambalaya

"The gist of my comments were...."?

And this is a safe pair of hands? Even the 'grassroots' are now now being better grammatically endowed now. If we cannot get this correctly, then as night follows day, we have a problem. It IS the economy and it will not wait for anyone. On the global horizon the clouds gather. Have you not noticed?
Seizure said…
Meanwhile in Italy, accumulated gargabe stink to high heaven.At least in the AG's Fiji garbage is disposed of relatively smoothly.Yes indeed we need more Angela Merkels and Hillary Clintons in positions of power. There's too much whining going on impeding our progress. Kudos to Aiyaz for telling it how it is in his interview on TVNZ.
A double anniversary said…
@ Seizure


Progress? Towards what? Go visit the Dogs' Service and let Solzhenitsyn enlighten you.

Whining? How come? What would be the point?

But note the assorted traits that dwell within the Gulag:

Arrogance
Stupidity
Autocracy
A sense of possessing a Patrimonial Estate
Greed and money-grubbing
Lasciviousness
Malice, cruelty

And this has been noted in our literature on jurisprudence:
'In many cases those who were deprived of freedom carried out their duties of guarding the colonies and maintaining order better than the staff jailers. And so tell me - what bad is there that one cannot teach a nation?
Or all humanity?"

This is the voice of the Nobel prize winning writer from beyond his grave.

He ends:

"I am finishing it in the year of a double anniversary (and the two anniversaries are connected): it is fifty years since the revolution which created Gulag, and a hundred since the invention of barbed wire (1867). This second anniversary will no doubt pass unnoticed".
Seizure said…
@ A double anniversary:

Progress towards a better Fiji off course - not a better Russia !
Thanks to
the 'Arrogance,Stupidity,Autocracy
A sense of possessing a Patrimonial Estate,Greed and money-grubbing Lasciviousness,Malice, cruelty' of people in the First World, the whole world is being transformed into an almighty Gulag.
Let Fiji under its current leadership transform Fiji in its own way. Your whining is ear-shattering.

Popular posts from this blog

Lessons from Africa

Fijian Holdings Scandal: Betrayal by their trusted sons

The Ratu Tevita Saga, Coup4.5, Michael Field, the ANU Duo, and Tonga