Caption: Mr Yukohiro WADA, Director, Oceania Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Ambassador Mataitoga.Photo:SUPPLIED.
Giving Fijian products more access to Japan’s market topped talks held this week between Fiji’s Ambassador in Tokyo, Isikeli Mataitoga and the Director for the Oceania Division in Japan’s Foreign Ministry, Mr Yukihiro Wada.
During the meeting Ambassador Mataitoga raised the prospect of more Fijian made goods and services entering the Japanese market. He said direct investments in Fiji by Japanese investors would also encourage new business partnerships and strengthen relations between the two countries.
A significant area highlighted by the Fijian envoy was Fiji’s capacity to provide the Japanese market with a wide range of goods that could be processed in Fiji using Japanese technology. He highlighted that while certain processed products or items such as canned food, biscuits, cosmetics, filtered water already have a presence in the Japanese market, the lack of volume in exports could be addressed through a government-to-government agreed framework.
Ambassador Mataitoga said that if a framework is developed, products from Fiji such as Fiji Rum, Tuna (Fisheries) and even whiskey from sweet potatoes are potential products that could enter the Japanese market. At the same time, a proposed framework of this nature would directly benefit the lives of Fijians living in rural and maritime communities across the country.
While the talks looked at how market access for Fijian goods would benefit Fijians, it would also provide an opportunity for Japanese small micro entrepreneurs to invest in Fiji. Mataitoga highlighted that Fiji is also keen to carry out trade in professional services by providing labour support to the areas of nursing, teaching, farming, trade and construction.
To facilitate this and to stimulate investment and trade, the Fijian envoy proposed for a Fiji/Japan Business Conference to be hosted in Fiji in 2015. This would enable Fijian and Japanese officials to look at ways of boosting trade and investment opportunities.
Ambassador Mataitoga also raised tourism promotion for Fiji and sought the support of the Japanese Government through the Ministry of Tourism of Japan. He said that joint efforts could be explored to attract more Japanese tourists to Fiji with direct participation of the relevant private sector stakeholders in both countries. With Fiji Airways already considering introducing direct flight between Fiji and Japan, this market development is critical to the success of flights to Japan.
Ambassador Mataitoga stressed to the senior foreign officials that Fiji intends to go beyond the traditional boundaries of its bilateral relation and cooperation with Japan for the benefit of Fijians.
He added that the exchange visits to both countries by high level political leaders would send a positive message to the private sector on the commitment by the governments of both countries in order to strengthen relations.