Appreciating and acknowledging the accomplishments of our outstanding exporters is the reason we are all here. What began as an initiative to recognize the achievement of our exporters two decades ago is today a premier event that distinguishes the achievement of our local exporters across a growing export base.
We are proud to mark the 20th anniversary of what once started as a small in-house cocktail. The 12 categories of awards show that Fiji is a quality exporter across all sectors.
I warmly congratulate the 12 award recipients. Well done! I also warmly congratulate all our participants and echo the words of our Prime Minister—you are definitely all WINNERS! You are all role models to encourage more Fiji companies to embrace and nurture the export challenge and survive the competitive global environment.
By celebrating and highlighting your export successes, the awards provide a platform for Fiji to strengthen its growing export culture.
After all, the Exporter of the Year Awards not only recognizes the outstanding achievements of our current exporters, but also tries to encourage and motivate upcoming and potential exporters to explore opportunities that exist in the international market and challenges them to materialize their dreams into a reality.
The Prime Minister's Exporter of the Year Awards is a self-funding event and would not have been made possible without the support from our generous private sector. Special thanks to the two main sponsors, Vodafone (Fiji) Limited and Westpac Banking Corporation, both came on board as dual event sponsors during our trying times. We thank you for your commitment and support.
I would also like to acknowledge the immeasurable contributions made by our other sponsors who have continued to provide their valuable support to the awards. We have 11 other sponsors this year, and some have been with us for a number of years and have continued to provide their valuable support to the awards.
These are: Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited; Bank of Baroda; BSP Group; Fijian Holdings Limited; Golden Manufacturers Limited; Hangton Pacific Company Limited; Home Finance Company Ltd; Life Insurance Corporation of India; Polynesian Shipping Line Limited; Reserve Bank of Fiji; and Technix Bitumen Pacific Limited. I thank our panel of judges who had the difficult task of deciding who should receive the awards, from the field of outstanding applicants. Thank you to our esteemed independent panel of judges.
Each of our exporters have demonstrated their versatility in the pursuit of excellence in exports, as mentioned earlier, not everyone can be a winner, but it is you, who market Fiji with your Fijian Made products and services which is paving the way for our country to be a more vibrant and prosperous nation in the international trading arena.
The Exporter of the Year Awards gets better every year and I encourage all the companies to enter the 2013 Prime Minister's Export of the Year Awards, and emulate the exceptional achievements of all our winners.