The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad, will be the first leader from Pacific island countries to be invited to open the 2023 Australasian AID Conference tomorrow at the Australian National University in Canberra.
The Australasian AID Conference is firmly established as the primary annual conference in Australia focusing on aid and international development policy, with more than 600 people from across Australia, the Asia-Pacific, and further afield attending in 2022.
In previous years, the AAC has been opened by Australia’s Foreign Minister, Shadow Foreign Minister, and Secretary, DFAT.
While in Australia, Professor Prasad met the Queensland Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Cameron Dick, where Professor Prasad provided an update on Fiji’s economic progress in the last 9 months.
He says after a strong 20 percent growth last year and a further 8 percent projected for this year, the economy is on a path to full recovery and growth is expected to be sustainable.
He adds the tourism industry has rebounded very strongly with visitor arrivals returning to 2019 levels.
The Deputy Prime Minister says Fiji has been experiencing a major challenge with outward migration, losing over 10 percent of its labour force in the last one and a half years.
He says this is putting a strain on both the private and public sectors, and the Government has been looking at immigration measures and some quick TVET training to beef up the capacity in the labour market.
Professor Prasad also emphasised that Fiji believes in regional solidarity, which is the only way to address new challenges in the region like geo-strategic competition, climate change and solutions to our unique challenges of smallness, geographical distance from major markets and narrow economic base and said that moving forward there is a need for deep and meaningful regional integration.
He also highlighted the need for development partners to focus on investment in regional public goods with widespread benefits for the Pacific people.
During the meeting, Professor Prasad and Dick reaffirmed the close relationship and continuing cooperation in various areas including, agriculture, industries, and businesses and also discussed how Queensland’s Pacific Trade Strategy will continue to grow and shape relationships moving forward.
Professor Prasad will meet with senior Ministers of the Australian Government and discuss key issues such as climate change, pandemics, areas of interest between the two countries, and how to deepen and improve meaningful regional integration.
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