Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 December 2011
The problem in context
This case study of Fiji explores the way in which its government and people are preparing to deal with the expected end of preferential trading relationships, and is based largely on interviews conducted in Fiji over several days in August 2004. In March 1997 the WTO Secretariat published its report of Fiji's first review under the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM). Paragraph 37 of the report's summary observations provides a good starting point for the current study. It reads, in part:
Fiji's economy depends heavily on sugar, tourism and clothing. The need to lessen the dependence on the sugar industry may become more urgent as Fiji's preferential status in its sugar export markets is eroded in the long term. Similarly, the clothing sector, also facing an erosion of preferential access, could require efficiency gains to remain competitive. Diversification of the economy will, however, require attention to the problem of shortages of professional and technical personnel that have resulted from the high rates of emigration over the past decade.
What has happened in Fiji since 1997 to facilitate diversification of the economy away from reliance on preference-dependent sectors and what policies and strategies are being pursued to this end? Can this small island nation adapt its workforce and economy to cope with the challenges of the early twenty-first century? Fiji's successful adaptation to change would be important to both the country and the region, while failure would probably have grave consequences.