Solomon Islands Embassy in Beijing negotiates diverse business opportunities with PRC
The Embassy of Solomon Islands in Beijing, China is negotiating a number of business opportunities with the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), including a direct flight arrangement from Honiara to China.
Speaking exclusively to SIBC News in a recent interview, Solomon Islands Ambassador to PRC His Excellency John Moffat Fugui outlines the business opportunities.
These are in the areas of Tourism, Fisheries, Agriculture and Forestry products, Information Technology, Timber products and round logs as well as sister-relations between Solomon Islands provinces and provinces in China.
Ongoing negotiations also include education exchange between Solomon Islands and China as well as on establishing a Chinese Bank, or a branch of it, in Solomon Islands.
On the direct flight arrangement, the country’s first diplomat to China said his office is working on a direct flight arrangement from Honiara to China – in particular, Guangzhou.
“Fujian Province also has expressed similar interest. The flight route is from Fujian, Manila and then Honiara,” Ambassador Fugui said.
On Tourism, Ambassador Fugui said the proposed negotiation is to bring in 50,000 tourists into the country. This would be state-directed tourism which the state organises them to travel to Solomon Islands.
“This will bring in revenue for the government and this is one way to boost government revenue,” HE Fugui said.
He said just last year, he joined the first China-Pacific Island Fishery Forum in which discussions also touched on a number of things. This includes establishment of Fishery projects such as Fish Farming, Aquaculture, tuna and beche-de-mer fishery, and the like.
“In this forum we meet interested parties who want to establish fishery firms in the Pacific, for countries that have diplomatic ties with China – this is the first of its kind,” HE Fugui said.
Negotiations are also ongoing on Agricultural/Forestry Products such as Coconut, Noni, Kava, Ginger, and Mushroom.
“China is the biggest market for these commodities in the world, there is a huge possibility that we can market our products here, my only concern is that we will not have enough supply if arrangements are in place,” said the Ambassador.
He said that is the big challenge for the country because China is a very big country and the country must prepare with the volume of supplies when arrangements are finalised.
Another negotiation is on Information Technology (IT), Artificial Intelligence and Big Data. HE Fugui said technology is very important in this modern era to run a country and could preserve natural resources. The case of Shenzhen is the best example, he adds.
He also proposed to negotiate for investments and business opportunities for timber products and round logs to and with China.
He said his office is also supporting ongoing negotiation on establishing relationships between provinces and businesses in the country with provinces and businesses in China.
“So far Western Province is establishing sister-relations with Fujian Province, Renbel is also expressing interest in establishing sister-relations with Hainan Province.
“To have relations with China – the bureaucracy is so big and sister-relations between cities or provinces is important to narrow down shared interests,” said the Ambassador.
Fugui said other provinces in the country with similar interest can forward their interest to his office and they will facilitate.
Negotiations are also ongoing to have more education exchanges between Solomon Islands and China.
“This is on the basis of increasing the number of students to study in China and possibly to establish relations between the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) and institutions here.
“We want to improve our economy but the foundational resource is on education and training. I want to increase education opportunities, research exchanges between China and Solomon Islands. We are seeking more training opportunities for our young people,” HE Fugui said.
The Embassy is also negotiating to establish a Chinese Bank, or a branch of it, in Solomon Islands.
“The more competition we have between the financial institutions, the better. We have banks with huge liquidity in the country. But they are not lending much to Solomon Islanders,” Fugui said.
As it is just eight months since the establishment of the Beijing Office, most of the negotiations are still in progress according to HE Ambassador Fugui.
Meanwhile, the former Member of Parliament turned diplomat said now Solomon Islands has ears and eyes in China, the second biggest economy in the world.
“The most important thing is we now have an office in Beijing. The capital of China, we also have our residence in Beijing, and whenever Solomon Islanders come to China, they have a home here.
“In terms of diplomatic relations, China can speak to us right from Beijing – in terms of our Embassy.
“Also, besides the Solomon Islands, China has diplomatic relations with 185 other countries. Those countries now have direct access to us. In terms of diplomacy, overall, we have access to the whole world,” Ambassador Fugui said.
by Jared Koli