By Carla Thomas
Even those who know something about the the Fiji Islands may not be able to pinpoint them on a map, about 1,300 miles northeast of New Zealand’s North Island. For tourists attracted to the South Pacific, they are a paradise of white sand beaches, tropical oceans and sunny weather. However, to the Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce, the Republic of Fiji is turning out to be an attractive place to build business relationships. The African American chamber explored the possibilities of developing business ties at a San Francisco Fiji Trade Mission meeting March 1 with special guest Jitendra Singh, Fiji Trade Commissioner who is based in Los Angeles. The event was coordinated by Fred Jordan, Dr. Hausmann Banet and Shonda Scott. “We are happy to share Fiji with the community because it is filled with opportunities – but the most amazing aspect is the warmth of the people,” said Scott, chair of the mission. She was so impressed with the islands when she visited last year that she and the chamber have planned a trip May 14-19. Singh pointed out that Fiji is t a 10-hour flight from Los Angeles. Its location near four continents mean that it is wellpositioned as a hub for production to key markets with modern port facilities and convenient air and freight services. Potential areas of investment in Fiji include audiovisual, tourism, information technology, renewable energy, small and micro enterprises and agriculture. Companies may qualify for a variety of tax incentives. The country has a 94 percent literacy rate, and English is the core language, through most people are generally bilingual or trilingual, according to Singh. “We graduate 4,000 to 5,000 graduates from our university annually, have a skilled labor force, and our current exchange rate is $1 USD to $175 FJD,” he said. Major exports include mineral water, mahogany, tuna and black cultured pearls, with emerging markets in natural oils. “We can move products quickly, and deliver a client fresh tuna within 24 hours because of our direct air and sea transportation,” said Singh. “Our electricity is dependable and we have hundreds of miles of highways,” he added.” “I think Bay Area businesses will find the trip very beneficial and will enjoy the culture,” said, Rocky Ali Buksh, publisher of the US Fiji Times. For more information on the trip contact the African American Chamber of Commerce at (41)-749-6400 or visit www. Fijitradela.com.