Economy of Fiji
Endowed with forest, mineral, and fish resources, Fiji is one of the most developed of the Pacific island economies, though it remains a developing country with a large subsistence agriculture sector. Agriculture accounts for 18% of gross domestic product, although it employed some 70% of the workforce as of 2001. Sugar exports and the growing tourist industry are the major sources of foreign exchange. Sugar cane processing makes up one-third of industrial activity. Coconuts, ginger, and copra are also significant.
Fiji Village quoted Energy Minister Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi on 22 September 2006, who confirmed that the Southern Cross Management Company Limited had applied for a license to drill for petroleum in Fiji's waters. The application was later revoked after exploratory reports indicated that Fijian oil reserves were severely overstated. Accepted estimates now range between 500 - 600 million barrels of Brent crude oil, with a total market value of approximately $4.7 billion over 20 years. Development plan
In September 2002, the government announced a 20-year development plan. Among other things, it aimed to give indigenous Fijians a greater stake in the economy. The plan envisages tax-relief to businesses owned or managed by ethnic Fijians, along with greater protection for indigenous land and fishery rights.
A major aim of the Fijian government is to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production. Cattle farming, fishing, and forestry (especially pine trees) are being encouraged to diversify the economy; the leading manufacturing industries involve the processing of primary products. On 14 April 2005, the Cabinet approved Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's proposal to develop a biofuels industry. Under the plan, ethanol is to be developed as a complement to the sugar industry, with the hope of alleviating Fiji's dependence on imported fossil fuel such as petrol.
On 15 August, Qarase said that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had granted assistance to Fiji to develop its biofuels project. Transformation of the Fiji Sugar Corporation into an energy and sugar company would result in a turnover of F$1 billion by 2025, he said, and would cut imports of crude oil, generate export earnings, and provide a source of electricity. Energy could be produced from copra, forest, and agricultural products, as well as sugar. He touted the scheme as necessary for diversifying and strengthening the sugar industry for its own survival, as well as for the national economy.
On 28 December 2005, John Teiwa of the Coconut Industry Development Authority announced that a 20-year plan for the coconut industry would be launched in 2006. Financing from international investors, including the government of India, would be sought to develop processing of virgin and extra virgin coconut oil, with a view to venturing into foreign health markets. Tourism
Tourism is the best and has expanded rapidly since the early 1980s and is the leading economic activity in the islands. More than 409,000 people visited Fiji in 1999, excludingcruise ship passengers. About one-quarter came from Australia, with large contingents also coming from New Zealand, Japan, the United States and United Kingdom. Trade
Foodstuffs, machinery, mineral fuels, beverages, tobacco, and manufactured goods are the principal imports. The two largest exports are sugar and garments, which each accounted for approximately one-quarter of export revenue in 1998 (roughly $122 million each).
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