ANZ Country Head for Fiji, Rabih Yazbek says from ANZ’s perspective, they see three major economic opportunities for Fiji and the first is what they call the “trade up” currently taking place.
Yazbek who took his role in Fiji almost 12 months ago says the trade-up refers to banks supporting their customers as they recover from the pandemic.
These include funding resort operators as they rehire and retrain staff, freshen up premises and restock their bars.
He says for the domestically focused business clients, the trade-up is affected by global supply chain issues so there is a need to finance holdings of larger stock levels due and to build additional warehouse capacity.
Yazbek says the second opportunity is diversification.
He adds most people in Fiji accept the country needs to diversify away from the tourism sector and several strategic advantages historically have not been fully realized.
Yazbek states one is Fiji’s central location and ability to service other South Pacific economies as a regional hub.
He adds Fiji has reliable and sophisticated telecommunications infrastructure; a young, educated population that speaks English; an attractive time zone that straddles the U.S. and Europe, and opportunities to develop sectors such as commercial agriculture and manufacturing.
The Country Head says the third opportunity for Fiji’s recovery post-pandemic is infrastructure.
He says Fiji requires major investments in hospitals, roads, bridges, renewable energy, and affordable housing.
Yazbek says ANZ is in a good position to assist with many of these growth opportunities through direct lending facilities and, importantly, through collaboration with multi-lateral organizations such as the World Bank.