Since April 2021, Fiji experienced a second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, and at one point during the crisis, suffered among the highest infection rates in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic and a series of natural disasters had a devastating impact on the tourism-dependent economy. The government also lost over $1.51 billion in tax revenues. The gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions, increased remittances from overseas workers, and the distribution of government-funded unemployment benefits have slightly boosted some consumption and investment activity, with GDP growth estimated at -4.1 percent in 2021, compared to -15.2 percent in 2020.
The reopening of borders for tourism in December 2021 resulted in a 12-fold increase in visitor arrivals in the 12 months to February 2022, compared to the same period ending February 2021. The resumption of tourism and improved performance in the primary and industrial sectors, major exports, and the service-related sectors is expected to drive growth by 11.3 percent in 2022 and 8.5 percent in 2023.
Fiji has traditionally been the economic, transportation, and academic hub of the South Pacific islands. The government welcomes foreign investment and parliament passed the Investment Act 2021 to improve the ease of doing business in Fiji. The government’s investment and trade promotion agency, Investment Fiji, registered 12 investment projects valued at $7.64 million (FJD $16.2 million) from American investors in 2021. Exports to Fiji totaled over $180 million in 2021. The United States is Fiji’s top export market. In 2021, U.S. consumers bought over $230 million in Fijian goods and services last year.
Fiji has trade and investment potential, and offers incentives to encourage investments in agriculture, residential housing development, energy, audio & visual, retirement village/aged care facilities, health sector, tourism, manufacturing, and the information communication technology (ICT)/business process outsourcing (BPO) sector.
1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
Demonstrating its commitment to improving the business environment in Fiji, the Fiji Parliament passed the Investment Act 2021 which will eventually replace the Foreign Investment Act 1999. The new law aims to improve ease of doing business in Fiji by streamlining the business registration process; attracting foreign and domestic investment; and providing equity for investors with transparent, reliable, efficient, and fair rules and procedures. Previously, all foreign investors were required to register for a Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC). The new law not only removes the requirement for a FIRC but also strengthens the rights and obligations of the investors. Fiji’s Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism, and Transport (MCTTT) is currently working with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to draft the regulations of the Act. The new law will come into effect once a notice in the Gazette is issued.
Under the new law, both domestic and foreign investors will undergo the business registration process with the Registrar of Companies and annually report to Investment Fiji. One of the investors’ rights under the law is in reference to national treatment and the most-favored-nation principle whereby foreign investors must be treated no less favorably in like circumstances than domestic investors with respect to the acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, sale, or other disposition of investments in Fiji. Fiji’s Department of Immigration is responsible for managing investor permits for non-citizen investors.
Investment Fiji is responsible for the promotion of foreign investment in the interest of national development. The three main services provided by Investment Fiji include investment promotion, investment facilitation (project management), and trade promotion. In addition to registering and assisting with the implementation of foreign investment projects, Investment Fiji hosts information seminars for visiting foreign business delegations and participates at investment missions overseas. The process of foreign investor registration by Investment Fiji will be phased out when the new law takes effect.
Investment Fiji has recently placed more focus on providing facilitation support for both new and existing foreign and domestic investors. The Fijian government supports and encourages existing businesses to re-invest. Several industry associations have been established which provide a forum for companies to share concerns and ideas in the industry. Examples of these industry associations include the Textile, Clothing, and Footwear (TCF) Council of Fiji, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Council of Fiji, and the Fiji Manufacturers Association.
Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
Investors are free to invest in all sectors and regions in Fiji provided it does not contravene the Investment Act 2021 and other laws in place.
Investment in the fisheries sector requires a 30 percent local equity in the project.
Some investment activities are reserved for Fiji nationals or are subject to restrictions. For all other business activities, there is no minimum investment requirement. There are currently 17 reserved activities exclusively for Fiji citizens, mainly in the services sector, and eight restricted activities that fall under the Foreign Investment Act 1999 and Foreign Investment Regulations 2009. These will soon be phased out and will be replaced with a new list of reserved and restricted activities currently being drafted for the Investment Act 2021. The current list of reserved and restricted areas can be found at https://global-uploads.webflow.com/5fc6b3ad7010ef7a53f68376/60d8f22321e2187f849ac435_Checklist%202020.pdf
Investment Fiji helps vet foreign investment proposals to ensure that the projects are in the interest of national development and to support implementation of projects. The Investment Act 2021 has provisions to restrict investment for the protection of national security interests. Investments in a sector that may have potential effects on critical infrastructure such as energy, transport, communications, data storage, or financial infrastructure; critical technologies; the security of supply of critical inputs; or access to sensitive information or the ability to control sensitive information must have their proposals submitted for Ministerial approval.
Other Investment Policy Reviews
The Fiji government’s MCTTT revised the recently passed Investment Act 2021. The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, in collaboration with foreign development partners, provided technical expertise in the review.
The Fiji Civil Society Organization released a 2016-2019 report on Sustainable Development Goals. The report details ways in which civil society and community groups contribute to the achievement of the 17 SDGs in Fiji. This includes Goals 7, 8, 9 & 10 on “affordable and clean energy; and decent work and economic growth” and “industry, innovation, and infrastructure; and reduced inequality.”
Australia is the largest donor for civil society in Fiji and currently supports CSOs through bilateral, regional, and global initiatives.
The Fiji government’s bizFiji website (www.business-fiji.com) is an information portal for new and existing businesses, as well as foreign investors. The portal provides information on the business registration process, how to obtain construction permits, and included application forms and links to all the required agencies, including the Registrar of Companies, Fiji Revenue and Customs Services (FRCS), Fiji National Provident Fund, National Occupational Health and Safety Services, and Fiji National University. The government’s reforms to improve the ease and reduce the cost of doing business include the removal of the business license requirement for low-risk businesses, reducing the processing times from five days to 48 hours to issue business licenses, and the removal of several requirements for existing businesses. Since the launch of bizFiji in 2019, the government has worked to develop a single online clearance system to improve registration processes, but inefficiencies remain.
For foreign investors, the bizFiji website is also linked to the Investment Fiji website. The registration form and procedures, and regulations for foreign investment is available at the Investment Fiji issue of the Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC). Applications for a FIRC and payment of the requisite application fee of $1,336 (FJD$2,725) must be submitted to Investment Fiji. Investors need to meet the requirements listed under the Foreign Investment Act (FIA) and the 2009 Foreign Investment Regulation as well as ensure that the investment activity does not fall under the reserved and restricted activities lists. The registration process for investment applications takes at least five working days and sometimes longer if the paperwork is incomplete. Once the Investment Act 2021 comes into effect, the requirement to register with Investment Fiji will be removed.
Investors are also required to obtain the necessary permits and licenses from other relevant authorities and should be prepared for delays. There are no special services or preferences to facilitate investment and business operations by micro, small, and medium sized enterprises, or by women.
Contact: Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, Level 2 and 3, Civic Tower, Victoria Parade, Suva; Telephone: (679) 330 5411; Website: www.mcttt.gov.fj
The Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) tightened exchange controls for any outward investment by individuals, companies, and non-bank financial institutions, including the Fiji National Provident Fund, which require clearance from the RBF.
2. Bilateral Investment and Taxation Treaties
Fiji does not have any Bilateral Investment Treaties in force but has signed Treaties with Investment Provisions (TIPs) with the European Union and Australia. In 2020, Fiji signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the United States and discussions are underway on a wide range of issues to expand trade and investment.
Fiji is not a member of the OECD Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. Fiji has double taxation agreements with Australia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. Fiji has not entered into a double taxation agreement with the United States.
3. Legal Regime
Transparency of the Regulatory System
Laws passed in parliament are available to the public on the parliament website and published in an official gazette. The lack of consultation with the private sector and other stakeholders on proposed laws and regulations remains an area of concern. The business community has complained that the government enacts new regulations with little prior notice or publicity. There is a perception among foreign investors that there is a lack of transparency in government procurement and approval processes. Some foreign investors considering investment in Fiji have encountered lengthy and costly bureaucratic delays, shuffling of permits among government ministries, inconsistent and changing procedures, lack of technical capacity, costly penalties due to the interpretation of tax regulations by the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS), and slow decision-making. The Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) regulates all food and animal products entering Fiji and has stringent and costly point-of-origin inspection and quarantine requirements for foreign goods. The government does not require companies to file an environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure.
Fiji’s constitution provides for public access to government information and for the correction or deletion of false or misleading information. Although the constitution requires that a freedom of information law be enacted, there is no such law yet. Proposed bills or regulations, including investment regulations, are made available and usually posted on the relevant ministry or regulatory authority’s website. The parliamentary website (http://www.parliament.gov.fj/) is a centralized online location that publishes laws and regulations passed in parliament. The government’s public finances and debt obligations are also made available annually in the budget documents.
International Regulatory Considerations
Fiji is a member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) that allows for the duty-free trade of goods between Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands. Fiji has been a member of the WTO since January 1996. According to Fiji’s trade profile on the WTO website, there are no records of disputes. Fiji ratified the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement in 2017.
Legal System and Judicial Independence
The legal system in Fiji developed from British law. Fiji maintains a judiciary consisting of a Supreme Court, a Court of Appeal, a High Court, and magistrate courts. The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal.
Both companies and individuals have recourse to legal treatment through the system of local and superior courts. A foreign investor theoretically has the right of recourse to the courts and tribunals of Fiji with respect to the settlement of disputes, but government laws have been used to block foreign investors from legal recourse in investment takeovers, tax increases, or write-offs of interest to the government.
Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
The Foreign Investment Act (FIA) and the 2009 Foreign Investment Regulation regulate foreign investment in Fiji. However, these laws will be replaced when the Investment Act 2021, passed in parliament in 2021, is implemented. At time of writing, all businesses with a foreign-investment component in their ownership are required to register and obtain a Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC). Information on the registration procedures, regulations, and registration requirements for foreign investment is available at the Investment Fiji website: http://www.investmentfiji.org.fj. Amendments to the FIA also require that foreign investors seek approval prior to any changes in the ownership structure of the business, with penalties incurred for non-compliance.
The Fiji government’s bizFiji website (www.business-fiji.com), an information portal for businesses and foreign investors, includes links to the Investment Fiji website. Since the launch of bizFiji in 2019, the government has worked to develop a single online clearance system to improve registration processes, but inefficiencies remain.
Competition and Antitrust Laws
The Fiji Competition and Commerce Commission (FCCC) regulates monopolies, promotes competition, and controls prices of selected hardware, basic food items, and utilities, to ensure a fair, competitive, and equitable market.
Expropriation and Compensation
Expropriation has not historically been a common phenomenon in Fiji. A foreign investor theoretically has the same right of recourse as a Fijian enterprise to the courts and other tribunals of Fiji to settle disputes. In practice, the government has acted to assert its interests with laws affecting foreign investors.
In 2013, the government amended the Foreign Investment Decree with provisions to permit the forfeiture of foreign investments as well as significant fines for breaches of compliance with foreign investment registration conditions.
ICSID Convention and New York Convention
Fiji acceded to the New York Convention in September 2010. Fiji has been a member of the ICSID since September 1977. However, there are no legislative or other measures adopted to make the convention effective.
Investor-State Dispute Settlement
The government has sometimes opted to penalize foreign investors in lieu of dispute settlement by deportation but there have been no new cases since 2016.
Past investment disputes have often focused on land issues, particularly in the mining, timber, and tourism sectors. Such disputes have been resolved through labor-management dialogue, government intervention, referral to compulsory arbitration, or through the courts. In some instances, the investors have withdrawn from Fiji when a resolution could not be found. Fiji is a party to the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes Between States and Nationals of Other States.
The World Bank Doing Business 2020 survey ranked Fiji 101 out of 190 on the efficiency of the judicial system to resolve a commercial dispute. According to the survey, Fiji took 397 calendar days to complete procedures at a cost of 42.6 percent of the value of the claim.
International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
Fiji is a party to the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes Between States and Nationals of Other States. Fiji acceded to the New York Convention in September 2010. Fiji also enacted the International Arbitration Act to improve the framework governing international commercial arbitration, adopting a version of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNICTRAL) model law on arbitration. The Fiji Mediation Center (FMC) is an alternative dispute resolution mechanism, with local and international mediators accredited by the Center in collaboration with Singapore. The FMC services include family, commercial, and small case mediation, and as of March 2019, has mediated over 190 cases, with 67 percent of the mediated cases settled, and 84 percent of cases settled within one working day.
Fiji’s Companies Act 2015 has provisions relating to solvency and negative solvency. According to the 2020 World Bank Doing Business survey, prior to COVID-19, in terms of resolving insolvency, it took an estimated 1.8 years at a cost of ten percent of the estate to complete the process, with an estimated recovery rate of 46.5 percent of value.
4. Industrial Policies
Fiji offers incentives for a range of sectors to encourage investments in agriculture, residential housing development, energy, audio & visual, retirement village / aged care facilities, health sector, tourism, manufacturing, and the information communication technology (ICT) / business process outsourcing (BPO) sector.
Government is increasingly participating in public private partnerships. Although it does not practice issuing guarantees to foreign direct investments, it has previously offered a tax holiday for the entire period of the partnership agreement.
Fiji offers tax holidays for investments in biofuel production for investments of at least $117,925 (FJD$250,000). The tax holidays range from five to 13 years depending on the level of investment. The incentive package further includes duty free importation of plant, machinery, and equipment for initial establishment of the factory and duty-free importation of chemical required for biofuel production. The importation of all agricultural items will be subject to zero duty provided a support letter is obtained from Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture.
A five-year tax holiday is offered to investors for new renewable energy projects and power cogeneration upon approval. Investment projects for electric vehicle charging station businesses will receive a seven-year tax holiday and will be granted a subsidy up to a maximum of five percent of the total capital outlay incurred in the development of electric vehicle charging stations, provided the capital expenditure is at least $47,170 (FJD$100,000), and will be allowed to carry loss forward to eight years. Any business investing in electric buses shall be allowed a tax deduction of 55 percent.
Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
The northern and selected maritime regions of Fiji have been declared Tax Free Regions (TFR) to encourage development in these isolated outposts. The specific areas include Vanua Levu, Rotuma, Kadavu, Levuka, Lomaiviti, Lau, and the Nausori-Lautoka region (from Nausori Airport side of the Rewa River (excluding township boundary) to the Ba side of the Matawalu River). Businesses established in these regions which meet the prescribed requirements enjoy a corporate tax holiday of up to 13 years and import duty exemption on raw materials, machinery, and equipment. The Wairabetia Economic Zone (WEZ) is a government project planned to be established by 2023 in Lautoka to provide the necessary facilities to support businesses with the provision of developed lots close to Lautoka Port and Nadi airport.
Performance and Data Localization Requirements
The government does not follow “forced localization.” However, immigration “time post” permits reserved for specialist positions encourage the transfer of knowledge and skills from expatriate workers to local workers. Investors permits are granted and extended by the Department of Immigration based on recommendations submitted by Investment Fiji through a progress report. The progress report provides the Department of Immigration an update on the progress of the investment project by the foreign investor.
There are performance requirements to use domestic content in goods to qualify for trade under the trade agreements between Fiji and partner countries, and to receive the “Fijian Made” branding by the MCTTT. These requirements apply to both foreign and domestic investors. Investment incentives are applied systematically.
To support the implementation of newly approved investments, Investment Fiji established a monitoring system to assist companies in obtaining necessary approvals to commence operations. The investing firm must ensure that commercial production begins within 12 months for investments under $1.18 million (FJD$2.5 million) or within 18 months of the date of approval of the project for investments above $1.18 million (FJD$2.5 million).
The U.S. Embassy is unaware of any policies regulating data storage or requiring foreign IT providers to turn over source code or provide access to surveillance.
Under the Investment Act 2021, any new investments relating to data storage or access to sensitive information or the ability to control sensitive information must have their proposals vetted by the MCTTT.
5. Protection of Property Rights
Land tenure and usage in Fiji is a highly complex and sensitive issue. Fiji’s Land Sales Act of 2014 restricts ownership of freehold land inside a city or town council boundaries areas to Fijian citizens. There are exceptions to allow foreigners to purchase strata title land, which is defined as ownership in part of a property including multi-level apartments or subdivisions. Foreigners are still allowed to purchase, sell, or lease freehold land for industrial or commercial purposes, residential purposes within an integrated tourism development, or for the operation of a hotel licensed under the Hotel and Guest Houses Act. The Land Sales Act also requires foreign landowners who purchase approved land to build a dwelling valued at a minimum of $117,925 (FJD$250,000) on the land within two years or face an annual tax of 20 percent of the land value (applied as ten percent every six months). Freehold land currently owned by a non-Fijian can pass to the owners’ heirs and will not be deemed a sale.
Foreign landowners criticized the government of Fiji for the speed at which the act was passed and the perceived lack of consultation with landowners and developers. The application of the Land Sales Act continues to create uncertainty among foreign investors. The Fiji government has yet to provide full clarification of the act, such as defining what constitutes an integrated tourism development. The limited capacity of construction and architecture firms makes it difficult to comply with the two-year time frame for building a dwelling before tax penalties set in.
According to the pre-COVID-19 World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Report, registering property took a total of 69 days and involved four main processes, including conducting title searches at the Titles Office, presenting transfer documents for stamping at the Stamp Duty office, obtaining tax clearance on capital gains tax, and settlement at the Registrar of Titles Office.
Ethnic Fijians communally hold approximately 87 percent of all land. Crown land owned by the government accounts for four percent while the remainder is freehold land, which private individuals or companies hold. All land owned by ethnic Fijians, commonly referred to as iTaukei land, is held in a statutory trust by the iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) for the benefit of indigenous landholding units.
To improve access to land, the government established a land bank in the Ministry of Lands under the land use decree for the purpose of leasing land from indigenous landowning units (collections of households; under the indigenous communal landowning system, land is not owned by individuals) through the TLTB and subleasing the land to individual tenants for lease periods of up to 99 years.
The constitution includes other new provisions protecting land leases and land tenancies, but observers noted that the provisions had unintended consequences, including weakening the overall legal structure governing leases.
The availability of Crown land for leasing is usually advertised. This does not, however, preclude consideration given to individual applications in cases where land is required for special purposes. Government leases for industrial purposes can last up to 99 years with rents reassessed every ten years. TLTB leases for land nearer to urban locations are normally for 50-75 years. Annual rent is reassessed every five years. The maximum rent that can be levied in both cases is six percent of unimproved capital value. Leases also usually carry development conditions that require lessees to effect improvements within a specified time.
Apart from the requirements of the TLTB and Lands Department, town planning, conservation, and other requirements specified by central and local government authorities affect the use of land. Investors are urged to seek local legal advice in all transactions involving land.
Intellectual Property Rights
Fiji’s copyright laws are in conformity with World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) provisions. However, the enforcement of these laws remains weak, and capacity is a challenge.
Illegal materials and reproductions of films, sound recordings, and computer programs are widely available throughout Fiji. In 2021, Fiji’s parliament passed new intellectual property laws including the protection of trademarks, patents, and designs. The laws are yet to be implemented.
The capital market is regulated and supervised by the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF). Twenty companies were listed on the Suva-based South Pacific Stock Exchange (SPSE). At the end of September 2021, market capitalization was $1.52 billion (FJD$3.212 billion), an annual decline of 5.9 percent compared to September 2020. To promote greater activity in the capital market, the government lowered corporate tax rates for listed companies to ten percent and exempted income earned from the trading of shares in the SPSE from income tax and capital gains tax. The RBF issued the Companies (Wholesale Corporate Bonds) Regulations 2021 to develop the domestic corporate bond market by providing a simplified process for the issuance of corporate bonds to eligible wholesale investors only.
Foreign investors are allowed to get credit from authorized banks and other lending institutions without the approval of the RBF for loans up to $4.7 million (FJD$10 million), provided the debt-to-equity ratio of 3:1 is satisfied.
Money and Banking System
Fiji has a well-developed banking system supervised by the Reserve Bank of Fiji. The RBF regulates the Fiji monetary and banking systems, manages the issuance of currency notes, administers exchange controls, and provides banking and other services to the government. In addition, it provides lender-of-last-resort facilities and regulates trading bank liquidity.
There are six commercial banks with established operations in Fiji: ANZ Bank, Bank of Baroda, Bank of South Pacific, Bred Bank, Home Finance Corporation (HFC), and Westpac Banking Corporation, with the HFC the only locally owned bank. Non-banking financial institutions also provide financial assistance and borrowing facilities to the commercial community and to consumers. These institutions include the Fiji Development Bank, Credit Corporation, Kontiki Finance, Merchant Finance, and insurance companies. As of December 2021, total assets of commercial banks amounted to $5.77 billion (FJD$12.223 billion). The RBF reported that liquidity reached $0.94 billion (FJD$1.99 billion) in December 2021 and were sufficient and did not pose a risk to bank solvency. However, the RBF also noted that existing levels of non-performing loans could rise, with the ending of moratoriums offered by financial institutions to COVID-19 affected customers. To open a bank account, foreign investors need to provide a copy of the Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC) issued by Investment Fiji.
Foreign Exchange and Remittances
The Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) tightened foreign exchange controls to safeguard foreign reserves and prevent capital flight to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. The Fiji dollar remains fully convertible. The Fiji dollar is pegged to a basket of currencies of Fiji’s principal trading partners, chiefly Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the European Union, and Japan.
Although no limits were placed on non-residents borrowing locally for some specified investment activities, the RBF placed a credit ceiling on lending by commercial banks to non-resident-controlled business entities.
The Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) requires RBF approval for any investment profit remittances. Prior clearance of withholding tax payments on profit and dividend remittances is required from the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service. Tax compliance may restrict foreign investors’ repatriation of investment profits and capital. A tax clearance certificate is required for remittances above $9,434 (FJD$20,000) and audited accounts for amounts above $235,849 (FJD$500,000). The processing time for remittance applications is approximately three working days, is contingent on all the required documentation submitted to the RBF.
Sovereign Wealth Funds
The Fiji government does not maintain a sovereign wealth fund or asset management bureau in Fiji. The country’s pension fund scheme, the Fiji National Provident Fund, which manages and invests members’ retirement savings, accounts for a third of Fiji’s financial sector assets. The fund invests in equities, bonds, commercial paper, mortgages, real estate, and various offshore investments.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Fiji are concentrated in utilities and key services and industries including aerospace (Fiji Airways, Airports Fiji Limited); agribusiness (Fiji Pine Ltd); energy (Energy Fiji Limited); food processing (Fiji Sugar Corporation, Pacific Fishing Company); information and communication (Amalgamated Telecom Holdings); and media (Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Ltd). There are 25 SOEs with combined assets valued at $3.87 billion (FJD $8.2 billion) in 2019. The SOEs include 10 Government Commercial Companies which operate commercially and are fully owned by the government, five Commercial Statutory Authorities (CSA) which have regulatory functions and charge nominal fees for their services, seven Majority Owned Companies, and two Minority Owned Companies with some government equity. The SOEs that provide essential utilities, such as energy and water, also have social responsibility and non-commercial obligations. A list of SOEs is published in government’s annual budget documentation.
Aside from the CSAs, SOEs do not exercise delegated governmental powers. SOEs benefit from economies of scale and may be favored in certain sectors. The Fiji Broadcasting Company Ltd (FBCL) is exempt from the Media Decree, which governs private media organizations and exposes private media to criminal libel lawsuits. The government has pursued a policy of opening or deregulating various sectors of the economy.
The government is pursuing public private partnership (PPP) models in energy, aviation infrastructure, and public housing, often seeking technical assistance from development partners including the International Finance Corporation to implement these arrangements and to encourage more private sector participation. In 2021, a Japanese consortium acquired 44 percent shareholding in state utility company Energy Fiji Limited. Foreign investors are already partnering in public-private partnership arrangements in the health and maritime port sectors. In 2018, the government signed the first public private partnership agreement in the medical sector with Fiji’s pension fund and an Australian company to develop, upgrade, and operate the Ba and Lautoka hospitals, the country’s two major hospitals in the western region. The PPP arrangements were finalized and in April 2022, and the new Ba hospital opened. The Ministry of Economy publishes these opportunities as Tenders or Expressions of Interest (http://www.economy.gov.fj/).
8. Responsible Business Conduct
Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) is increasingly promoted, and the government has included legal provisions to protect the environment, consumers, human rights, and labor rights, although its monitoring and enforcement of RBC is mixed. The media, civil society organizations, and labor unions play active roles in promoting RBC. In 2019, a foreign-owned tourism development project was cancelled after the media highlighted extensive environmental degradation by the project developers.
The Fiji government has identified climate change as the single largest threat to Fiji’s development aspirations. The National Climate Change Policy 2018-2030 (NCCP) is the country’s overarching policy instrument for climate change and is closely aligned to Fiji’s 20-year National Development Plan. The NCCP outlines Fiji’s priorities and strategies in reducing present and future climate risks, while maximizing the country’s long-term gains in development.
The NCCP and the Low Emission Development Strategy (LEDS) solidifies Fiji’s commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. In 2021, Fiji signed a five-year agreement that will reward up to $12.5 million (approx. FJ$26 million) for its efforts to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The landmark agreement is with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), a global partnership housed at the World Bank. Fiji’s emission reductions program will address the main drivers of deforestation and forest degradation through integrated land use planning, native forest conservation, and sustainable pine and mahogany plantations.
The government has raised several financing initiatives to raise budgetary resources to towards implementing its climate change commitments, including the issue of its first-ever sovereign of green bond in November 2017 on the London Stock Exchange, the introduction of an Environmental and Climate Adaptation Levy (ECAL) previously applicable on prescribed services, and a plastic bag levy to promote the use of reusable bags. However, public procurement policies do not include environmental and green growth standards.
The legal code provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but corruption cases often proceeded slowly. In 2021, parliament enacted the “high court amendment” law that created a specialized court to enable specific judges and magistrates to preside over and speedily resolve anticorruption cases.
The government established the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC), which has broad powers of investigation. FICAC’s public service announcements encouraging citizens to report corrupt government activities have had some effect on systemic corruption. The government adequately funded FICAC, but some observers questioned its independence and viewed some of its high-profile prosecutions as politically motivated. The media publishes articles on FICAC investigations into abuse of office, and anonymous blogs report on government corruption. FICAC in collaboration with the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-corruption agency (UN-PRAC) launched a nationwide anti-bribery campaign. However, Fiji’s relatively small population and limited circles of power often lead to personal relationships playing a major role in business and government decisions. Fiji acceded to the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2008.
Resources to Report Corruption
Contact at the government agency or agencies that are responsible for combating corruption:
Mr. Rashmi Aslam Commissioner Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) P.O. Box 2335, Government Buildings, Suva, FIJI (679) 3310290 email@example.com
The country held general elections in November 2018 and international observers deemed elections credible. Although civil unrest is uncommon, the Public Order Act restricts freedoms of speech, assembly, and movement to preserve public order. The Online Safety law may also restrict free speech in the digital space. In 2021, there were reports that authorities used the POA’s wide provisions to restrict freedom of expression and of association, and arrest citizens critical of the government on social media. The next elections are expected in 2022.
11. Labor Policies and Practices
Labor market conditions at the end of 2021 improved with the lifting of the travel restrictions and the reopening of international borders. The number of workers in the informal sector increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), an estimated 66 percent of the workforce was in the informal sector.
The ILO estimates that Fiji’s labor force in 2020 was 361,369, with a labor force participation rate of 75.4 percent for males and 56.7 percent for females. Education is compulsory until age 17, with male and female students in Fiji achieving largely the same level of education. Fiji continues to face acute labor shortages in a broad range of fields, including the medical, management, engineering, and financial sectors, and increasingly, competent trade-skilled people in the construction, electrical, and plumbing trades. Fiji participates in the Pacific Australia Labor Mobility (PALM) Scheme and Fijians were employed in meat works, hospital, accommodation, and aged care sectors. As of April 2022, close to 800 Fijians were employed in meat works under PALM.
The Ministry of Employment, Productivity, and Industrial Relations has responsibility for the administration of labor laws and the encouragement of good labor relations. The Employment Relations (Amendment) Act of 2016 restored the 2007 Employment Relations Promulgation (ERP) as the primary basis for the right of workers to join trade unions. Trade unions are independent of the government. The ERP prohibits forced labor, discrimination in employment based on ethnicity, gender, and other prohibited grounds, and stipulates equal remuneration for work of equal value. There are workplace safety laws and regulations, and safety standards apply equally to both citizens and foreign workers. The government announced a rise in the national minimum hourly wage rate to $1.89 (FJD$4) in the revised FY2021-2022.
12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and Other Investment Insurance or Development Finance Programs
The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) provides investment insurance in Fiji for qualified applicants, including political risk insurance and loans. The risks of currency convertibility are safeguarded under Fiji’s foreign exchange regulations. Fiji is a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.
13. Foreign Direct Investment Statistics
Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source*
USG or international statistical source
USG or International Source of Data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)