Government of the Cook Islands
Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki - Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration
MFAI Media Release: Fiji and the Cook Islands to grow economic co-operation
During discussions held on Monday 6 June, Prime Ministers Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama of the Republic of Fiji and Hon. Mark Brown of the Cook Islands committed to bolster economic co-operation by working to improve transport links, streamlining labour mobility processes and supporting trade and investment growth.
This week’s high level discussions in Suva, supported by senior officials from the respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration builds on notable increases in Cook Islands imports of Fijian products pre COVID including building materials and a growing range of food products and a notable community of Fijian nationals working in the Cook Islands hospitality and construction sectors.
“I had a very positive meeting with Prime Minister Bainimarama this week, and we have together instructed our officials to prioritize formalization of an expanded bilateral partnership agreement before the end of the year to support expanded transport links, streamlining labour mobility processes, trade and investment growth, education and professional development and stronger people to people ties” said Prime Minister Brown. “Prior to COVID we had experienced significant increases in imports from Fiji and steady growth in workers coming into our hospitality and construction sectors from Fiji – I’m hopeful that together with Prime Minister Bainimarama, we can secure New Zealand support towards our respective COVID recovery endeavors through improvements in visa transit arrangements and fees imposed by New Zealand on Fijian workers travelling to the Cook Islands.”
In response, Prime Minister Bainimarama said “I’m greatly encouraged by the opportunities available to us, and look forward to working closely with the Government, and people of the Cook Islands to bring those to fruition in the very near future” said Prime Minister Bainimarama. Some 700 Fijians presently reside in the Cook Islands, working in the hospitality and construction sector and are contributors to Fiji’s foreign exchange earnings through remittances.
The two leaders also discussed regional solidarity and security in the lead up to the July Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting where Leaders are expected to decide and launch the 2050 Strategy of the Blue Pacific Continent in a year that marks 50 years of the PIF. “As a founding member of our Pacific Islands Forum, the Cook Islands have long recognized the immense value of Pacific regionalism and our Pacific family. Our 2050 Regional Strategy articulates our Pacific Way and Pacific led solutions – it requires our collective engagement and determined fortitude We have always been stronger together, and together we can ensure the recovery of our respective economies and the prosperity of our people, long into the future,” Prime Minister Brown said. Prime Minister Bainimarama is the current chair of the PIF and will host next month’s meeting of Pacific Leaders.
Also on the 6 June, the two Leaders jointly opened the Cook Islands High Commission to Fiji in Suva. Both leaders also participated in the PIF Political Dialogue Mechanism from 6-7 June which also included the Leaders of Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and Special Envoy of the President of the Marshall Islands.
Prime Minister Brown was supported in his engagements by officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI) including Secretary Herrmann and High Commissioner to Fiji Jim Armistead. “Fiji continues to present strong offerings towards the Cook Islands economic recovery endeavour in labour, trade, transport, investment and education,” said Secretary Herrmann. “This most recent engagement between our two Leaders and the official opening of our High Commission in Suva this week bolsters MFAI’s ability to support our business community in their business dealings and recruitment endeavours out of Fiji and sustain engagement in key regional efforts to ensure the security and prosperity of the Cook Islands. Improvements to transport links – air and sea – between the Cook Islands and Fiji will be integral to the bring to fruition the aspirations of both our governments and we will continue to work closely with our domestic stakeholders as well as our Fijian counterparts to progress these. We are already seeing elevated engagement with our High Commission in Suva which is welcomed.”
Cook Islands officials are presently engaged with Fiji Airways to explore improved airlink opportunities between the two countries as well as from markets beyond including the Northern Hemisphere, New Zealand and Australia. Prime Minister Brown was able to meet with Fiji Airways executives at Nadi International Airport on his departure from Fiji. As part of developing the Fiji partnership arrangement, MFAI will continue to sustain engagements with key government agencies and businesses interested in Fiji business in the coming weeks.
For further insight into Prime Minister Brown’s Fiji mission this week see https://www.facebook.com/mfaicookislands and https://www.facebook.com/FijianGovernment/posts/389751029855767
Queries regarding this media release can be directed to Ewan Cameron at Ph: 29347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.