THE Fiji Export Council has its sights on quality assurance training for staff in a bid to leave a positive impact on small businesses in Fiji.
FEC spokesman Jone Kalouniviti said the training began in August last year in New Zealand and would enable staff members to train locals in terms of adding value to their products where exports were concerned.
"This mentoring program also helps business people look beyond the normal scope in getting their businesses and products export ready," Mr Kalouniviti said.
"The outlook for 2013 is basically to get this quality assurance training going which we feel will have a positive impact on the future of small businesses in Fiji who can eventually grow to become exporters.
"So far, FEC has tried its best to be a guiding tool, helping direct individuals or companies towards the appropriate authorities to help their businesses and provide market information for their products.
"FEC is constantly networking and firming up of all trade data will be an area of focus in 2013 to help FEC undertake its other tasks of helping exporters or potential exports become export-ready."
He said a lot of work was done to encourage a more united approach between government and the private sector where FEC participated as a lobby group for exporters to government.
A big challenge for the council and stakeholders, he said, was the dissemination of the right information to those who needed it to assist them in their business.
"This has been a great challenge for a long time and often it is always the same group who has access to the information, training opportunities or understanding the existing trade agreements," Mr Kalouniviti said.
"Last year, our main focus was on capacity building and workshops were conducted on export readiness — this was identified as a weak area as far as exports in Fiji are concerned.
"Early major projects last year included a cyclone impact assessment conducted in the Western Division after the January floods to help government identify which exporters needed assistance."
He said FEC expected to do the same assessment this year to identify the needs of clients after Cyclone Evan.
He said another activity to follow was the summing up of data for export cargo freight.
"This would determine how exports via freight will be impacted following the aircraft changes by Fiji Airways in 2013," he said.
"Another major area that FEC was involved in was the reactivation of the Fiji-PNG Business Council and the active involvement with the Fiji-Australia Business Council and Fiji- New Zealand Business Council."
He said they helped co-ordinate the first ever Pasific Trade Show at Denarau which helped showcase to potential buyers from overseas Fiji-made products and trading opportunities with Fiji.