The governments of Fiji and Japan exchanged diplomatic notes at a ceremony in Suva Tuesday to formalise Japan’s assistance to Fiji through the “COVID-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan (Phase 2)” worth up to 10 billion JPY (FJD$186 million).

The exchange of notes between the Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Kawakami Fumihiro, Ambassador of Japan in Suva was followed by the signing of a Loan Agreement between the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Fijian Government.

The emergency loan has been provided in recognition of the Fijian Government’s commitment to social and economic stability while mitigating the adverse impacts of the pandemic. It is expected to revitalise financial support to implement fiscal countermeasures to improve the livelihoods of Fijians affected by the pandemic and will enable the Fijian Government to implement its planned activities for 2021-2022 by directing resources to strengthen health and medical services.

Ambassador Kawakami commended the leadership of the Fijian Government and the individual effort of all Fijians in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that since the beginning of 2020, the whole world has been tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, Fiji has become one of the most vaccinated countries globally and has opened its borders and eased restrictions. Although the threat of the virus has not faded, it is safe to say that Fiji is at the forefront of controlling COVID-19 and close to setting itself free.

He said the impact of the pandemic on the economies of many countries, including Fiji, is long-lasting which is why Japan is supporting Fiji further through this Emergency loan. Ambassador Kawakami expressed confidence that this Emergency loan will support the Fijian Government’s efforts to revitalise the Fijian economy and strengthen the health care system.

He conveyed his deep sympathy to the people of Fiji affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent natural disasters, such as the flooding brought by heavy rains in the West, as well as the tsunami and fallout generated by the Tongan volcanic eruption.

In response, the Acting Prime Minister, Attorney-General and Minister for Economy welcomed the concessionary loan as another sign of confidence in Fiji’s economic stability and prudent financial management.

He thanked the Japanese Government for their show of solidarity and their endorsement of Fiji’s economic recovery and stressed that the concessionary loan will strengthen Fiji’s defences against climate change, COVID-19, and other health challenges by funding disaster responses, resilient public health and medical systems.

He also spoke on how the financing collaboration demonstrated Fiji’s and Japan’s longstanding partnership based on shared values and a shared commitment to an inclusive COVID-19 recovery.

Japan and Fiji have enjoyed friendly relations and a strategic partnership through the years. Fiji has significantly benefitted from technical and developmental assistance provided by the Government of Japan through Japanese training programmes, technical assistance (deployment of experts and volunteers) and project implementation.

The FJD$186 million COVID-19 Phase 2 Loan entails concessional conditions with a 0.01% interest rate, a 15 years’ repayment period and a four-year grace period.

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1970, Japan commenced its official development assistance or ODA to Fiji. The total amount of its funding has reached around 88 billion Japanese Yen (FJD$1.7 billion).