Following bilateral talks in Suva, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, have made a number of announcements aimed at strengthening the partnership between the two countries.

Along with discussing a range of issues including defence and regional security, trade, and people-to-people links, Luxon has committed New Zealand to funding a number of initiatives as part of New Zealand’s International Development Cooperation programme.

These include:

* a further $3.6 million (US$2.23 million) to Fiji’s Climate Relocation of Communities Trust Fund,

* $572,000 (US$354,430) for an upgrade to the High Temperature Forced Air (HTFA) Facility at Nadi International Airport alongside Australia, to help Fijian horticultural exporters meet New Zealand’s strict biosecurity requirements,

*$15.3 million (US$9.48 million) for a New Zealand Plant and Food Research-led programme to support farmers in five Pacific countries, including Fiji, to adapt to the impacts of climate change on production.

*And $7.5 million (US$4.33 million) for the Government of Fiji’s economic reform programme, which is focused on improving fiscal management and sustainability, and economic resilience.

Luxon, who took part in a kava ceremony upon arrival in Fiji on Wednesday, said NZ will also waive the requirement for Fijian nationals transiting through New Zealand to have a transit visa.

“Fiji is a critical partner for New Zealand and we look to Fiji for its leadership in the Pacific. We share values and interests, and we work closely together on the challenges confronting our region,” Mr Luxon says.

“Prime Minister Rabuka and I have set a goal of lifting two-way trade to $2 billion (US$1.2 billion) by 2030.

“With two-way trade currently worth nearly $1.4 billion we are building on a strong foundation. But there remains significant opportunity for growth that will benefit both our countries.”

Regarding the transit visa changes, Luxon said it was a tangible expression of New Zealand’s desire to see businesses in both countries to work together more.

“Many Fijian nationals travel through New Zealand to reach other destinations in the Pacific and around the world – we expect this will have a positive economic impact for the region.”

The changes to the transit visit will still take some months to implement and Fiji nationals intending to visit, study, or work in New Zealand will still need to apply for the appropriate visa.

The fee for an NZeTA is NZ$23 (US$14.25) for online applications, or NZ$17 (US$10.53) if using the free app. NZeTA requests are processed within 72 hours and are valid for two years.