Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama met today in Suva, and renewed their commitment to continue to strengthen Fiji-New Zealand relations on a foundation of shared values and equal partnership.
The Prime Ministers acknowledged the kinship between Fijians and New Zealanders, one that has endured over decades, fostered through family connections, education and sporting links, trade, investment and tourism.
The Prime Ministers welcomed the expansion of government-to-government links, which has seen cooperation flourish across a range of sectors – including peace and security, climate change and disaster resilience, labour mobility, agriculture and fisheries, economic reform, and advocacy on Pacific issues.
To recognise and formalise the progress made in the bilateral partnership, the Prime Ministers committed to issuing a new Fiji-New Zealand Statement of Partnership. This would be a living document, informed by the development priorities of the Government of Fiji, and a shared vision for the bilateral relationship and for the wider Pacific region. It would be underpinned by regular ministerial and high-level consultations, beginning with a reciprocal visit to New Zealand by Prime Minister Bainimarama.
The Prime Ministers committed to continuing New Zealand and Fiji’s joint efforts to combat common security challenges. They acknowledged the success of the bilateral defence partnership programme since it was launched last year. They also welcomed the expansion of security cooperation into policing, with the launch of a new programme to lift the capability of the Fiji Police Force and enhance the countries’ work to address the threat that transnational organised crime poses to communities in both New Zealand and Fiji.
The Prime Ministers recognised that communities in Fiji and New Zealand share many social wellbeing and health challenges, including the impact of natural disasters, non-communicable diseases, and gender-based violence. They highlighted the protection and empowerment of Pacific women as a shared priority and an area in which New Zealand will continue to support Fiji’s domestic policy agenda.
The Prime Ministers affirmed the strong trade and business links between Fiji and New Zealand, with two-way trade having surpassed NZ$1 billion. New Zealand will continue to support Fiji’s economic reform ambitions, as both countries continue to grow the trading relationship.
The Prime Ministers emphasised the value of collaborating in regional and international fora to progress the collective interests of the Pacific, which include climate action, public health management, support for multilateralism and the protection and sustainable management of oceans and Pacific fisheries resources. They committed to taking further steps to strengthen constructive dialogue and cooperation on a broader range of issues of regional importance. They also acknowledged the role of the Pacific Islands Forum as the primary platform for leaders to discuss and agree on the region’s priorities.
Prime Minister Ardern congratulated Prime Minister Bainimarama as Fiji marks its 50th year as a proud, independent nation. The Prime Ministers recognised that 2020 also marks the anniversary of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Fiji and New Zealand.
The Prime Ministers recognised the importance of New Zealand and Fiji’s people-to-people relations and strong institutional links. They undertook to explore and facilitate further opportunities for individuals and organisations with mutually-beneficial skills and resources to contribute to each country’s development.
The Prime Ministers affirmed that they look forward to continuing the strong and positive trajectory of the relationship, finding new ways to jointly improve the health, wellbeing and resilience of Fijian and New Zealand communities, and addressing the existential threats facing the Pacific region.