New Zealand exported about $700 million annually to Fiji with two way trade exceeding $1 billion.

According to the New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji Jonathan Curr, this put Fiji in its list of top 20 trading partners.

“New Zealand has an immediate interest in the Pacific and our mutual long-term goal is to see a stable prosperous resilient region,” he said.

“As a Pacific country with strong ties among our peoples and in culture history and politics and trade to Fiji and the wider region we have a role to play in supporting the Pacific’s recovery in the pandemic too.

“And trade ties are about to get closer within the Pacific now that PACER-Plus has been ratified by the required eight countries.”

These eight countries were said to be Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and New Zealand which have all completed the necessary ratification steps.

The remaining signatories which were yet to ratify are Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. “The agreement will now enter into force before Christmas this year, we still hope that Fiji will also join this agreement in due course.”

Mr Curr acknowledged Fiji’s request to join the travel bubble and the importance of this for the country’s economic recovery.

He said the New Zealand government was still being formed under Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and it would be for the new Cabinet to comment further on the prospects and timing of the bubble.

“But I do want to reassure you that Fiji’s interest in this is very clearly heard and very clearly understood and is a very significant piece of work for me and my team at the high commission,” he said.

“New Zealand and Fijian officials have been involved in exploratory conversation already about possibilities about recommencing travel between our two countries when conditions allow.

“I know this is important for people not just for commerce but also for the friends and families that they have living in New Zealand.”

New Zealand and Australia were also said to have continuing discussions on trans-Tasman safe travel zone which according to Mr Curr would include Pacific countries such as Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau.

“Once this zone is up and running in the appropriate time we will explore opportunities to expand the concept to other members of the Pacific families such as Fiji.

“Meanwhile we need to look at alternative means to support economic recovery and identify opportunities available to us at the current time,” he said.