Attitude toward Foreign Direct Investment
The Fiji government welcomes foreign investment, assuring investors that Fiji is a safe place to do business. The return to parliamentary democracy and re-engagement of diplomatic relations with international partners has improved investor confidence. However, some investors have complained about bureaucratic challenges in doing business in Fiji and the limited ability to resolve concerns with the government related to their investments.
Although Fiji has a tradition of a strong judiciary system where contractual rights are generally upheld, the lack of independence of the judiciary and the lengthy legal process raise concerns about due process of law. Furthermore, the constitution prohibits all tiers of the judiciary from considering cases relating to the 2006 coup; all acts of the interim government between December 4, 2006, and April 9, 2009; the abrogation of the previous constitution in 2009; and all government decrees since December 2006. The constitution decrees that all actions by the government prior to the first sitting of parliament after the 2014 elections are protected indefinitely by this immunity. An amended decree also removed the courts’ jurisdiction to hear challenges to government decisions on judicial restructuring, terms and conditions of remuneration for the judiciary, and terminated court cases. Various other decrees contain similar clauses limiting the jurisdiction of the courts on decisions made by cabinet, ministers, or government departments.
Super cyclone Winston in February 2016 caused flooding and extensive damage to housing, schools, and public infrastructure and disrupted essential utilities. In line with the impact of the cyclone, the Fiji government expects growth to be lower than its earlier projection of 3.5 percent in 2016. Significant post-cyclone reconstruction, retail and tourism activity are expected to drive growth in 2016. According to 2015 figures, earnings from tourism were USD 344 million (FD 715 million) with visitor arrivals reaching 688,884. The number of U.S. visitors increased 9.5 percent in 2015, accounting for nearly nine percent of total visitors. Tourism remains Fiji’s largest foreign exchange earner, and the country has liberal visa requirements— allowing nationals of 109 nations to enter the country without acquiring a visa in advance. Remittances from Fijians working abroad are a second pillar of the economy. Sugar exports remain important. While the sector is a major employer, production is below its peak performance. The government is funding reforms to improve sugar quality, farm productivity, and mill efficiency to bolster sugar production. Additionally, the sugar sector is diversifying into co-generation facilities for producing energy. U.S. exports to Fiji declined by 28 percent in 2015, and two-way trade with Fiji totaled about USD 259.8 million.
Other Investment Policy Reviews
The Fiji government is reviewing its investment policies in order to improve efficiency in the approval processes of foreign investment proposals. Fiji will undertake its second WTO trade policy review in 2016. In 2015, UNCTAD undertook a voluntary peer review of Fiji's competition law and policy.
Laws/Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
The Foreign Investment Act (FIA) and the 2009 Foreign Investment Regulation regulate foreign investment in Fiji. All businesses with a foreign-investment component in their ownership are required to register and obtain a Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC) from Investment Fiji.
Investment Fiji is responsible for the promotion, regulation, and control of foreign investment in the interest of national development. Its Online Single Window Clearance System simplifies the registration process and enables online applications for a FIRC and payment of the requisite application fee of USD 1,385 (FD 2,875). Information on the registration procedures, regulations, and registration requirements for foreign investment is available at the Investment Fiji website: http://www.investmentfiji.org.fj.
Investors are also required to obtain the necessary permits and licenses from other relevant authorities and should be prepared for delays. The World Bank Doing Business 2016 survey estimated that it took 11 procedures and a total of 58 days to get a business registered. There are no special services or preferences to facilitate investment and business operations by micro, small and medium sized enterprises. Small enterprises are those employing between five and 20 people, while medium enterprises employ between 20 and 50 people.
The government of Fiji’s national priorities for development include agribusiness, energy, food processing and packaging, information and communication, media and entertainment, and travel.
Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
A number of investment activities are reserved for Fiji nationals or subject to restrictions. There are 17 reserved activities and five restricted activities. Full listings of reserved and restricted areas can be found at: http://www.investmentfiji.org.fj/pages.cfm/for-investors/doing-business-in-fiji/foreign-investment-act-foreign-investment-regulations.html.
In 2013, the government amended the foreign investment law to allow the government to confiscate assets, interests, and/or shares or properties of foreign investors who do not comply with FIRC conditions, thus leading to a termination of its FIRC.
The government is still in the process of selling of a number of its blue-chip public assets, including Airports Fiji Ltd and Fiji Government Printing and Stationary Department. The sale is expected to raise an estimated USD 257 million (FD 534 million) in revenue.
Screening of FDI
Investors are required to meet the requirements listed under the Foreign Investment Act (FIA) and the 2009 Foreign Investment Regulation as well as ensure that the investment activity does not fall under the Reserved and Restricted Activities list. The following documents must accompany the FIRC application: if a company is being listed as a shareholder, then a certified copy of the certificate of incorporation and name(s) of those associated with the shareholding company; if local equity contribution is required, a copy of the shareholders agreement and a copy of the declaration of shareholders, witnessed or certified by a justice of the peace, lawyer and/or chartered accountant; a certified copy of the passport bio-data page, together with a recent color passport-size photo of all those associated with the business; a police clearance report from the country of residence in the last 12 months or more; and proof of company registration abroad (if applicable).
Contact: The Chief Executive, Investment Fiji, P.O. Box 2303, Government Buildings, Suva; Telephone: (679) 3315 988; Fax:(679) 3301 783; Email: email@example.com; Website: http://www.investmentfiji.org.fj/.
The approval process for investment applications takes five-10 working days. Depending on the nature of the business, investors may also be required to obtain permits and licenses from other relevant authorities and should be prepared for delays.
The Fiji Commerce Commission (FCC), established under the 2010 Commerce Commission Decree, regulates monopolies, promotes competition, and controls prices of selected hardware, basic food items, and utilities, in order to ensure a fair, competitive, and equitable market.