Es­says

Op­por­tu­ni­ties for In­dian In­dus­try in Fiji Fu­ture of Work: New-Age Business Mod­els & Skills

FICCI Business Digest - - Contents -

Fiji, an ar­chi­pel­ago in the Pa­cific Ocean, lo­cated north of the Tropic of Capri­corn, has a trop­i­cal cli­mate with a hot hu­mid and rainy sea­son from De­cem­ber to April, and a cooler sea­son from June to Oc­to­ber. Fiji com­prises more than 332 is­lands, about one-third of which are in­hab­ited, com­pris­ing a to­tal land area of 18,333 sq km in a vast marine Ex­clu­sive Eco­nomic Zone of 1.6 mil­lion sq km.

Fiji of­fers many op­por­tu­ni­ties to the In­dian in­dus­try. Fiji, which has US$5 bil­lion econ­omy (with US$2.25 bil­lion trade), re­mains to be rel­a­tively un­ex­plored by the In­dian in­dus­try due to mainly two rea­sons, dis­tance and low vol­umes of trade. A ma­jor de­ter­rent that we of­ten hear from In­dian business en­ti­ties for not en­ter­ing into Fi­jian mar­ket is that the vol­umes of trade are low due to small size of the mar­ket (Fiji pop­u­la­tion is 884,887 as per Septem­ber 2017 cen­sus). How­ever, I would like to ar­gue that there is huge un­tapped po­ten­tial in sev­eral ar­eas which can be ex­plored by In­dian busi­nesses not only to ex­port prod­ucts to Fiji but also to make Fiji a base to man­u­fac­ture/as­sem­ble/store their prod­ucts to cater to the en­tire South Pa­cific re­gion. As it is, Fiji [English, iTaukei (Fi­jian) and Hindi are of­fi­cial lan­guages] is the trans­port hub for the other smaller Pa­cific Is­land coun­tries and serves as a cen­tral point for busi­nesses in the en­tire re­gion. There are op­por­tu­ni­ties in all sec­tors of Fi­jian econ­omy but fol­low­ing ar­eas merit spe­cial men­tion:

Agri­cul­ture:

There is tremen­dous scope for In­dian in­dus­try in the field of agri­cul­ture, es­pe­cially in the sugar in­dus­try. Not only there is scope for In­dian en­ti­ties to come and do plan­ta­tion at large scale there is also scope for agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles, equip­ment and im­ple­ments. In­dia has ex­tended US$50.4 mil­lion Line of Credit in July 2005 for up-gra­da­tion of sugar mills in Fiji. Fur­ther two Lines of Credit (LOCs) of US$5.38 mil­lion for up-gra­da­tion of sugar in­dus­try in Fiji and US$70 mil­lion for re­vival of sugar in­dus­try and upgra­da­tion of the Fi­jian Rail­way Co­gen­er­a­tion of Power Plant in Fiji were ex­tended in 2015. In­dia has pro­vided a grant of US$1.06 mil­lion to the Fiji Sugar Cor­po­ra­tion (FSC) for pur­chase of five Tata lor­ries, five me­chan­i­cal cane planters, and five Mahin­dra trac­tors along with sev­eral agri­cul­ture-re­lated equip­ment from In­dia in De­cem­ber 2017. Ten se­nior engi­neers of the FSC com­pleted 30 weeks train­ing (10 weeks each year since 2015) at Vas­ant­dada Sugar In­sti­tute (VSI), Pune, Ma­ha­rash­tra in Jan­uary 2018. VSI also con­duct train­ing in Fiji also. This co­op­er­a­tion in the field of sugar in­dus­try opens up many pos­si­bil­i­ties for the In­dian business in this sec­tor. Pos­si­bil­ity for In­dian en­ti­ties to ac­quire lease­hold land in Fiji for

largescale plan­ta­tion of sug­ar­cane, co­conut and other crops is im­mense. There is scope for food-pro­cess­ing business, es­pe­cially SMEs in co­conut and coir in­dus­try. De­spite pro­duc­tion of co­conut at large scale, Fiji does not have any sig­nif­i­cant food pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties to utilise all parts of a co­conut. In­dian co­conut in­dus­try can def­i­nitely find many lu­cra­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties in Fiji.

There is a lot of de­mand for ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­i­ties and re­lated equip­ment and tech­nol­ogy in Fiji. In­dian en­ti­ties should ex­plore this in Fiji and they will find many op­por­tu­ni­ties in this field.

In­fra­struc­ture Projects, Flood Con­trol and Wa­ter­ways:

Re­cur­rent cy­clones and ex­treme weather events mean Fiji and the PICs are con­tin­u­ally en­gaged in in­fra­struc­ture projects. I would like to en­cour­age large In­dian in­fra­struc­ture com­pa­nies to look at Fiji and other PICs se­ri­ously and bid in the in­ter­na­tional ten­ders floated by lo­cal govern­ments and in­ter­na­tional donors and de­vel­op­ment part­ners reg­u­larly. There is huge scope for In­dian in­dus­try to tap the flood con­trol and wa­ter­ways sec­tor in Fiji as it is prone to fre­quent cy­clones/floods. There is, there­fore, huge de­mand for flood con­trol, wa­ter­ways equip­ment, ir­ri­ga­tion pumps and agri­cul­ture im­ple­ments.

Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals:

Fiji im­ports a large num­ber of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals from In­dia, how­ever, much of it is routed through Aus­tralia or New Zealand. Time and again, we re­ceived in­ter­est from the Fi­jian stake­hold­ers to es­tab­lish a man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity in Fiji for pharma prod­ucts. Again, In­dian en­ti­ties can look at Fiji not only for ex­port but lo­cal pro­duc­tion to cater to the en­tire re­gion.

Ready­made Gar­ments/Ap­parel Ex­ports/Im­i­ta­tion Jew­ellery/Leather prod­ucts:

Fiji has a strong In­dian di­as­pora since ar­rival of In­di­ans from 1879 on­wards. In­dian cloth­ing, tra­di­tional wear, jew­ellery, and leather prod­ucts have huge mar­ket in Fiji.

Scope for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment/So­cial En­trepreneurs/So­lar Projects:

Cli­mate Change is a mat­ter of na­tional con­cern and in­deed an ex­is­ten­tial threat not only to Fiji but all the Pa­cific Is­land Coun­tries. There is, there­fore, tremen­dous scope for en­vi­ron­ment-friendly tech­nolo­gies and prod­ucts in Fiji and other PICs. Es­pe­cially, for so­cial en­trepreneurs in the field of so­lar prod­ucts such as so­lar stoves, so­lar light­ing, so­lar boats, pumps, so­lar de­sali­na­tion plants and so­lar mi­cro-grids, there is tremen­dous scope.

In­dian Ve­hi­cles:

Mahin­dra ve­hi­cles have been suc­cess­ful in mak­ing in­roads in the Fi­jian mar­ket. Tatas have also en­tered in the mar­ket. There is cer­tainly scope for other In­dian au­tomak­ers also to con­sider Fiji as well as other PICs to in­tro­duce their ve­hi­cles. Cur­rently, the lo­cal mar­ket in Fiji is over-de­pen­dent on the used cars. In­dian af­ford­able ve­hi­cles will cer­tainly find a lot of tak­ers in Fiji.

ICT/Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­tor/ Con­sul­tancy:

The fa­cil­i­ties and in­fra­struc­ture for higher ed­u­ca­tion is lack­ing in Fiji and in all the neigh­bour­ing PICs. There is tremen­dous scope for our en­ti­ties in pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor to ex­plore Fiji to not only es­tab­lish their ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions but also to col­lab­o­rate with ex­ist­ing play­ers in Fiji es­pe­cially in the field of higher ed­u­ca­tion and IT cour­ses.

Med­i­cal Tourism:

In­dia is the most pre­ferred des­ti­na­tion for med­i­cal tourism for all Fi­jians and for ci­ti­zens of neighour­ing PICs. There is huge de­mand for af­ford­able qual­ity treat­ment in Fiji. A pos­si­bil­ity for col­lab­o­ra­tion with lo­cal pri­vate hos­pi­tals is also there and is al­ready be­ing ex­plored by some play­ers like Madras In­sti­tute of Or­tho­pe­dic and Trau­ma­tol­ogy (MIOT), which has in­vested in Fiji in 2017. There is, how­ever, tremen­dous scope for oth­ers also to look at Fiji and other PICs in this sec­tor.

Hos­pi­tal­ity:

Ev­ery year, over 850,000 tourists visit Fiji. There­fore, the scope for In­dian business in this field can­not be over-em­pha­sized. There is in­vest­ment op­por­tu­nity to ac­quire as­sets in ho­tels and tourism sec­tors as well as pos­si­bil­ity for part­ner­ship and joint ven­tures abound for In­dian en­ti­ties to ex­plore Fi­jian tourism sec­tor. I would like to con­clude by say­ing that Fi­jian mar­ket is a gate­way to the Pa­cific, which would cer­tainly, make the cut for many In­dian busi­nesses to con­sider it as a cen­tral lo­ca­tion from where one could cover the larger re­gion. With cheaper labour and re­sources avail­able in Fiji, it presents ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity to cater to larger economies such as Aus­tralia and New Zealand from here. It goes with­out say­ing that the In­dian Mis­sion in Suva is at the dis­posal of In­dian in­dus­try at all times to pro­vide any sup­port that might be needed to do so. Vish­vas Sap­kal In­dian High Com­mis­sioner to Fiji

Vish­vas Sap­kal, In­dian High Com­mis­sioner to Fiji

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