Government of the Republic of Fiji
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service
9th July 2011, Suva: The Deputy Secretary (Economics & Trade), Mr. Shaheen Ali, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation (MFA&IC), met with the visiting Australian Delegation, led by Mr. Jeremy Bruer, Assistant Secretary- PNG and Fiji Branch, from the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss cooperation between the two countries on Textile Clothing and Footwear (TCF) under the SPARTECA.
Ms Kirsty McNeil, Acting Deputy Head of Mission, Australian High Commission Suva, Mr. Steve Clarke, Supervisor Valuation and Origin Section, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Mr. Robert Fairley, TCF Policy Group, Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR) and Mr. Peter Lothian, Desk Officer, Fiji Section, DFAT, were part of the Australian Delegation.
Ms Sovaia Marawa, Director Trade, MFA&IC, Ms Sangita Devi, Chief Economist from the Ministry of Industry & Trade, Ms Amalani Kuruvakadua, PAS(E) and Ms Radika Kumar, A/SAS(E) from MFA&IC comprised the Fiji side in the meeting, which was convened at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Conference Room, on the 06 July 2011.
The team from Australia was on a fact finding mission to gather further information in relation to the review of the SPARTECA TCF-Scheme between Fiji and Australia, which is due to be renewed by the end of 2011. In welcoming the team Mr. Ali expressed Fiji's appreciation for the market access provided under the Scheme which was to a large extent sustaining Fiji's garment industry. Although in decline, the TCF Sector was of vital importance in alleviating poverty and engendering social equality in Fiji, given that 90% of the employees in the industry were women and in most cases the sole bread-winners. The industry currently employs 2500 workers but indirectly impacts on approximately 16000 people.
Mr. Ali said that through improvements to the current Scheme, there was potential to turn the garment industry around and increase its contribution towards Fiji's GDP and social development. Improvements were essential as larger garment producing countries from outside the Pacific Region were being granted better market access into Australia through GSP and other trade arrangements.
The Australian side was impressed by the level of commitment by Fiji's industry to improve efficiency, production and innovation. Nonetheless, there was an acknowledgement that Fiji's TCF sector needed to implement further reforms in order to diversify and improve its competitiveness and be sustainable in the long term. Both sides agreed that further improvements could be achieved through continued partnership between Fiji and Australia under the SPARTECA TCF Scheme.
Mr. Ali wished the Australian team a fruitful visit and a pleasant stay in Fiji and once again thanked Australia for the long-standing cooperation on TCF through the Scheme, which commenced in 2001. Whilst in Fiji the Australian side met with the Fiji TCF Council and the Fiji Revenue & Customs Authority.
(Photo caption: Mr Ali and Ms Marawa)
Fiji and Australia Delegates
Ministry of Foreign Affairs P. O. Box 2220 Government Buildings Suva, Fiji