20th November 06:50 AM
Fiji’s 10 years of unprecedented economic growth due to PM's leadership - Pryke
By Pratika Mala
Friday 18/10/2019
With the signing of the Vuvale Partnership, the Prime Minister’s prospects for a better Fiji have been bright [Photo:Fijian Government]

Director for Pacific Islands Programme at the Lowy Institute, Jonathan Pryke says Fiji’s 10 years of unprecedented economic growth has undoubtedly been attributed to the sound leadership of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Pryke highlighted this during the 25th Australia-Fiji Business Council Forum official dinner in Brisbane.

The Lowy Institute is an independent think tank founded in April 2003 by Frank Lowy to conduct original, policy-relevant research about international political, strategic and economic issues from an Australian perspective. It is based in Sydney.

Pryke says it is no secret that the formal relationship between the two countries has been through a tough time but the Bainimarama-led Government has turned a new page which has seen an enhanced Fiji-Australia bilateral relationship, among other important achievements.

He adds with the signing of the Vuvale Partnership, the Prime Minister’s prospects for a better Fiji have been bright.

Pryke further says he thinks it’s beyond time to elevate the relationship even further with Australia and Fiji negotiating on a comprehensive bilateral trade and investment agreement.

He adds a comprehensive trade and investment agreement would help the relationship in a number of ways.

He says it would give regulatory certainty to investors in both directions, reduce barriers of entry for new traders and investors and minimise risk by setting out mutually agreed upon legal and regulatory frameworks.

Pryke says such an agreement would be a perfect starting point for a broader conversation about how to deepen and thicken the bilateral economic relationship, a conversation this business council has already been having for some time.

He says sports is one area in which the people-to-people and institutional links can naturally be strengthened. Pryke says twinning relationship with the Australian state education and health agencies and Fijian equivalents is a concept that can be further explored.

Pryke says the Reserve Banks of Australia and Fiji should partner on cadetship exchanges adding the Reserve Bank of Australia could even consider taking on some FBF graduates for a rotation or two.

He says they should have more parliamentary exchanges and more special visitor programmes in both directions.

Pryke goes on to say the institutional and people-to-people links under the partnership should also enhance security cooperation and more should be done to solidify the relationship between the Australian Defence Force and the RFMF. He says apart from the assistance rendered by Australia on the Blackrock facility in Nadi and the Australia’s Pacific Patrol Boat Programme, joint exercises and shared humanitarian deployments should always be an activity between the two forces.

Pryke adds this kind of relationship, one of intimacy and independence, is what he imagines for Australia and Fiji in 25 years.

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