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Ramsden: Fiji, NZ have deep ties

Manasa Kalouniviti
Thursday, October 12, 2017

THE outgoing New Zealand High Commissioner Mark Ramsden says Fiji has gone through a lot of positive changes during the time he's been here.

"The Fiji New Zealand Business Council has been a wonderful relationship for us and they have done a lot of good stuff in trying to build trading relationship between Fiji and New Zealand so there's going to be a lot of things that we'll miss when we leave," Mr Ramsden said.

He said Fiji and NZ have had a few highlights in their diplomatic relations and also in the economic space.

"The Fiji NZ Business Council and its counterpart in New Zealand, the NZ Fiji Business Council, have been really great at bringing investors and exporters to Fiji.

"The councils' conference has also really drawn in a lot of people who are interested in doing business with Fiji. Over this time we've seen Fiji's exports to NZ increase; Fiji's services exports through tourism has also increased a lot; and that's really positive for both countries," he said.

Mr Ramsden said NZ had invested quite a lot through the NZ Aid program in trying to boost Fijian exports, particularly horticultural exports.

"That's something that's been working very well including the work that the Ministry of Primary Industries in New Zealand does to ensure and try and facilitate Fijian exports through the New Zealand border."

Mr Ramsden said going through Tropical Cyclone Winston while here was quite an experience for him.

"One of the things that Tropical Cyclone Winston did was really it exposed the bedrock of Fiji NZ relationship," Mr Ramsden said.

"That we are close and we are neighbours having deep, deep ties, and when a neighbour and a friend go through an event like that, then it is the natural thing that the neighbours and the friends will throw all they can at trying to help.

"And I was really impressed with the way the Fijian Government managed the response to the cyclone."

He said he was proud to be a New Zealander seeing the NZ Defence Force, the Fire Service Urban Rescue and the NZ medical assistance team and NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade my own colleagues responded at that very early phase after the disaster.

"And it's really nice to see some of the medium-term recovery work that we are supporting come into fruition.

"We will soon be opening and formally handing over to the Fijian Government 35 public buildings in the Northern Lau Group that we've supported the reconstruction of," he said.

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