12:33PM

KOREAN ‘ISA LEI’ TO STRENGTHEN DIPLOMATIC TIES

Fiji and Korea's bilateral relations would be made stronger when a famous Korean singer will sing Fiji's popular Isa Lei song in the Korean language during a cultural event in Suva this week.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola met singer Hyung-ju Yoon and his group earlier today and thanked them for this initiative to promote the marriage of the two cultures.

The group was introduced by Korean Ambassador Seong-in Kim.

Ratu Inoke said this initiative showed the positive relationship the two countries had developed over the years.

Ratu Inoke hoped that such initiatives would continue and Fiji would be able to showcase her culture in Korea in the near future.

Ambassador Kim said the embassy would be organizing a musical concert called Arirang and Isa Lei 2014 at the University of the South Pacific's ICT Centre.

He said the highlight of the two hour event would be the singing of Mr Yoon's Korean version of the Isa Lei song.

According to Ambassador Kim the onus was on Mr Yoon for spreading the popularity of that original Fijian number back in the 1970s.

That Korean version of the Isa Lei song is widely known to Koreans up to this day.

Mr Yoon will also be performing with the Fijian choir while Korean musicians and traditional dancers residing in Fiji will also take part.

Fiji and Korea established formal diplomatic relations in 2007.

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12:08PM

EXPORT MARKET EXPLORED FOR FIJIAN MADE PRODUCTS

Fiji’s First National Women’s Expo was a gateway to promoting the Fijian made products for increased export market, said the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni.

The Expo held last week saw a gathering of 499 women’s groups from around Fiji to sell products made using local resources, skills and talents.

The Ministry of Women in partnership with Ministry of Industry and Trade had also organised guided tour programs for companies such as ANZ, Westpac, Tappoo’s, Trade Pasifika, Courts Fiji Limited, Punja and Sons, Vodafone ATH Foundation, Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association, UN Women, LICI, Fiji Export Council, Fiji Airways, Fiji/USA Business Council and the Diplomats of the various Foreign Embassies, to see the locally made products on display at the Expo.

Dr Luveni said the Expo is a new platform to attract potential buyers and export agents interested in buying Fiji’s locally made products.

“The women’s expo links the sellers of the Fijian Made products with that of the potential buyers. As artisans, there are needed skills to perfect the quality of your products for the export market. We will work with you to get there, in partnership with relevant government agencies, partners and financial institutions, we will be following up with your groups to see where we can assist or work with you for the export market. This is the road to building resilience in our lives and pursue self-reliance for our families,” Dr Luveni said.

“I challenge you ladies now, when you go back and prepare for the second National Women’s Expo that you remember what Bambi Shen said, ‘When you do something, be very good at it that someone is willing to pay you for it,’” she added.

Westpac bank manager sustainability, Ms Eseta Nadakuitavuki, who took a tour of the Expo, said Fijian women have promising talents that could take Fiji’s economy to a higher level.

“I must congratulate the Women’s Ministry in particular Dr Luveni for initiating this wonderful marketing arena for rural women. After taking a tour of all the displays, I noticed a lot of creativity and quality products that are good enough for export and we do have local buyers that will buy these products and Westpac believes that with the concerted efforts from all the stakeholders we should be able to lift the local talents to another level,” Ms Nadakuitavuki said.

“Some of these products have the potential to receive good export market prices and it is just a matter of fine tuning in terms of packaging to ensure these products meet the standard and quality that overseas markets are searching for. Many of these products have local look and taste, which can be very well linked to Fiji’s lucrative tourism sector,” she explained.

In June this year, the Ministry of Women entered into a new partnership with the Westpac Bank Fiji to provide financial literacy and business skills training to women and micro entrepreneurs from low income households.

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11:55AM

POLICY MAKERS MEET AT 2014 FIJI ECONOMY UPDATE

Participants from different sectors of Fiji, including government officials, academics, researchers, businessmen and representatives of international organisations converged for the 2014 Fiji Economy Update in Suva today.

The Fiji Economy Update is an annual event organised by the University of the South Pacific’s (USP) School of Economics, which brings together research output on various aspects of the Fijian economy to try and assist policy-makers in decision making.

Speaking at the opening of the Update, USP vice chancellor, Professor Rajesh Chandra said the update provides an opportunity to bring together the public, researchers and policy makers to discuss vital issues of the Fijian economy.

“The update brings together the public, researchers and policy makers to discuss research, analyse contemporary issues relating to the Fijian economy and to interact with policy makers with the intent of shaping those policies and influencing the implementation of those policies,” Professor Chandra said.

Professor Chandra said the update is an important element of the university’s strategic plan 2013 – 2018.

“Within the plan is highlighted two very important elements. The first one is research and USP is sending out to substantially increase its research output, impact and engagement and the second one is regional engagement.”
Highlighting the theme of the workshop, ‘Inclusive growth in development strategies’, Professor Chandra said it emphasised the importance of being able to grow.

“It points to the need to ensure that the strategy of economic growth is felt, is mindful of being shared widely. It is based on the need to provide equity of opportunities so that every member of our society feels empowered and able to take advantage of those opportunities.”

On that note, Professor Chandra added that that Fiji has taken significant steps to promote inclusive growth and development.

“This is through massive investments in infrastructure, bold funding for education which is at the heart of development, commitment to create a knowledge-based society in Fiji.

“The world today is an interconnected knowledge intensive competitive place and companies and countries that are making progress today are those that have high degree of research in development and higher education,” the vice chancellor said.

While speaking about Fiji’s economic prospects, IMF Pacific Financial and Technical Assistance Centre (PFTAC) project coordinator, Scott Roger said the objective is to lift the sustainable rate of growth.

“In 2014, growth is expected to be around 3.8 per cent by the recent IMF team and inflation is expected to remain low. This is a more positive picture than was seen for some recent years,” Mr Roger said.

“In IMF’s view, the most likely scenario with unchanged policies is that growth will gradually reconverge towards a longer term potential of around 2.5 per cent. Structural reforms are required to increase efficiency of economy and to boost the kind of investment and activities that are needed to generate jobs, investment and exports.”

The day-long update also focussed on social sectors and access to economic opportunities as well as the future agenda for growth and development.

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9:16AM

PIDF EMPHASISES INCLUSIVE PROCESSES IN FISHERIES DISCUSSION

The Pacific Island Development Forum (PIDF) secretary general Feleti Teo has called for more inclusiveness in discussions on sustainable development issues in the Pacific.

He made the call at the recently concluded Pacific Bêche-de-mer and the Future of Coastal Fisheries Meeting held in Nadi.

Speaking to fisheries ministers and officials from Cook Islands, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, Mr Teo said changing global and regional environment requires new approaches to problem solving.

“It is accepted that current development models have not worked. Global and regional challenges are complex and interconnected and they require the expertise and resources across multiple sectors. Sustainable development is no longer the sole responsibility of governments; it is a whole of society responsibility,” Mr Teo said.

He reminded participants that leaders from the public and private sectors & civil society need to be brought together to address regional sustainable development challenges like coastal fisheries management, through mutually beneficial innovative partnerships.

“We need to catalyse, mobilize and mainstream action on sustainable development through a green economy which is the alternative development pathway.

“PIDF can provide the space for interactive discussions involving all stakeholders of society on sustainable development issues like coastal fisheries management,” Mr Teo added.

Mr Teo also briefed the meeting on the partnership that PIDF had established with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature to collaborate in the area of fisheries in the Pacific.

“The inaugural PIDF summit agreed on “The Ten Things” that must be done to achieve green-blue economies in the Pacific.

“These Ten Things now form the core of the strategic underpinnings and the work programme of the PIDF Secretariat. One of the Ten Things is fisheries which is pursued in terms of Food Security for the Pacific,” Mr Teo said.

“The PIDF is now collaborating with the WWF on a major fisheries event for the Pacific for 2015.”

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8:35AM

RURAL WOMEN ACQUIRE FINANCIAL LITERACY SKILLS

A total of 160 rural women received financial literacy training last week as part of the National Women’s Expo.

The women were trained through ANZ (Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited) Money Minded Pacific Financial Literacy program in partnership with Department of Women with the aim of educating women on components of financial management, savings, budgeting and microfinancing.

The ANZ Microfinance and Rural Banking head of corporate responsibility Sitiveni Marovia said the bank was proud to be given the opportunity to empower rural women in Fiji.

“We hank the Department of Women for inviting ANZ to provide the three days of financial literacy training to the women who have come from rural and maritime areas to participate in the National Women’s Expo,” Mr Marovia said.

“It provides financial capacity building and saving skills for women, who are particularly the foundation and financial controllers of their families. It is for this reason that eighty percent of the trainees here are females. ANZ is delighted to provide this opportunity to rural women and following this training, the women will be able to access the ANZ’s Flagship Literacy Program to further enhance their financial capabilities,” he added.

Financial literacy trainee, Sainiaria Tinai of Namosau, Ba said this was the first time for her to learn the importance of savings.

“I am truly grateful to ANZ and the women’s Ministry for organising this training for us. It will help me as the president of Namosau Multiracial Women’s Group, in terms of planning the finances for our group of 54 women who depend on baking, sewing and weaving for their day-to-day living,” Mrs Tinai said.

“The training was very informative, we learnt the importance of planning our finances, drawing up a budget and saving for a progressive future. When, I return home, I will be able to share the new financial skills with women in my community.”

The ANZ’s Money Minded Pacific Financial Literacy Program is facilitated in Fiji, Pacific Island countries and also in Asia.

Apart from this training, the National Women’s Expo 2014 also provided opportunities for the rural women to receive training in Indonesian weaving skills, tailoring skills and the demonstration of the Rocket Stove.

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