Fijian Ministers at the Second Belt and Road Forum
The Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Hon. Premila Devi Kumar, together with the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Disaster Management Hon. Jone Usumate and Minister for Fisheries, Hon. Semi Koroilavesau attended the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing, China.
The Belt and Road Initiative originated in 2013, as an effort by the Chinese Government to actively advance cooperation to build inclusiveness, mutual learning and benefits for all member countries of the Belt and Road Initiative. Since 2013, Chinese companies such as Railway China have been actively participating in the construction of roads, port facilities and other infrastructure projects in Fiji. Other areas of focus have been expanding regional cooperation through trade and investment agreements, people-to-people cooperation and development of other trade and investment infrastructure.
Hon. Kumar emphasised that the Initiative provides an opportunity for Fiji and the Pacific to engage with China in a way that create mutual benefit.
“We believe that Fiji can learn from the Chinese Government in areas, such as setting special industrial/economic zone policies and establishing zones that attracts foreign direct investments in specialised areas,” said the Minister.
Since 2013, two-way trade between China and the Belt and Road partner countries increased from US1.04 trillion to US1.27 trillion. This has been possible through various initiatives that has made the movement of goods and investments easier.
The Minister added that Fiji needed to capitalise on this initiative for the benefit of Fijians, as Fiji plans to attract foreign direct investments from China. This would in return, create employment opportunities and improve the livelihood of all Fijians.
“We are engaging with distributors in China so that we are able to export more to China,” the Minister stated.
The Chinese President Xi Jinping officially opened the 2nd Belt and Road Forum on 26th April, followed by high-level meetings. Twelve thematic sessions took place on 25th April where all the three Fijian Ministers participated in sessions of relevance to their portfolios. The first Belt and Road Forum was held in 2017 and attended by the Honorable Prime Minister, Josaia Bainimarama. This year 37 Heads of State and Heads of Government and 370 Ministers from all over the world attended the 2nd Belt and Road Forum.