French explore investment opportunities

FIJI could benefit from the expertise and global experience of the French multinational corporations based in New Caledonia.

Deputy Head of Mission of the French Embassy in Suva, Jules Irrmann made the comments at a recent meeting with Investment Fiji chief executive officer Godo Müller-Teut and BRED Bank CEO Frederic Reynaud.

“In terms of economic gains and benefits; New Caledonia has a higher GDP per capita than in New Zealand and important French companies are already based in Noumea.

“Some of them are world leaders in their specialities like Suez (water and sanitation — 80,000 staff worldwide and a turnover of 14.3 billion euros ($F33.6 billion), Colas (transport infrastructure — 60,000 staff and 12.4 billion euros ($F29.1billion) and renewable energy specialists like Quadran and Vergnet Pacific. These companies are part of world renowned groups.

“They are familiar to the Pacific Island environment and can bring adapted cutting edge technology in Fiji,” said Mr Irrmann.

“Given the neighbouring advantages that Fiji and New Caledonia can benefit from, the expansion and establishment of further investments in Fiji are significant catalysts for economic growth and employment opportunities for both countries.

“Fiji has the potential to improve its investment climate in collaboration with New Caledonia. The opportunities are obvious.” Mr Irrmann said.

Mr Müller-Teut said there were tremendous business opportunities between Fiji and New Caledonia, following the MSG Investment Roadshow and Trade Fair held in Noumea last year.

“Fiji has growing and vibrant domestic market that does not only consist of over 830,000 inhabitants but also of more than 750,000 tourists.

“Moreover, as the hub of the Pacific, Fiji is the ideal re-export centre for New Caledonian businesses to supply products and services to the rest of the Pacific.

“Language constraints have previously been highlighted as major obstacle, but with French owned BRED Bank operating both in New Caledonia and in Fiji, and the presence of the French Embassy advice can be provided both in English and French to potential investors,” he said.

According to Investment Fiji, potential investment opportunities for Fiji span across a number of sectors, such as fisheries where New Caledonian businesses have developed sophisticated prawn and shrimp farms.

“Fiji’s favourable climatic conditions, a growing demand, and a competitive labour market are some factors that work in our favour. Other potential business prospects include the garment industry, mahogany, and the mining industries where New Caledonia offers the technical capability in carrying out development projects and potential joint ventures,” said Mr Müller-Teut.

BRED Bank CEO Mr Reynaud said the challenge would be to witness the set-up of at least one common business project in Fiji as a pilot.

“It has already happened in the past but, if we can have new businesses from New Caledonia to set up operations in Fiji and see how it’s faring, that will be the determining factor for others to follow suit.

“The fact that BRED Group is present on both New Caledonia and Fiji will make the process easier for any New Caledonian business who wishes to invest in Fiji.” Mr Reynaud said.

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