COUNTRYAAH, Fiji is one of the most economically developed small
states in the South Pacific. GDP per capita was estimated at
USD 3700 in 2007. However, the distribution of income is
very skewed. Since the beginning of the colonial era in
1874, the economy has been dominated by the export
industries. Today, tourism is the most important industry.
Political turmoil has hit the economy hard. A significant
economic downturn following the 1987 coups was followed by a
slow but steady growth in the 1990s. The coup leader, and
later the elected prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka's regime
was highly market oriented; tax reform and deregulation were
important elements of the policy. The emigration of
well-educated Fiji citizens, especially of Indian origin,
accelerated after the 1987 coups and accelerated further
after the 2000 coup. Poverty and unemployment then spread
across all ethnic groups. In 2002, the government adopted a
radical privatization program to prevent collapse in the
sugar industry following the withdrawal of EU subsidies, but
the industry is still struggling. In 2003, the unemployment
rate was officially declared at approx. 7%, but unofficial
estimates pointed to 25%.
Agriculture, including fishing, contributed 15% of GDP in
2002 and employed approx. 40% of the labor force. Over 80%
of the land is owned by the Native Land Trust Board, which
is controlled by the Fijian chieftains. Most of the arable
land, however, is leased to small landlords by Indian
farmers, but a problem in recent years is that many are not
allowed to renew their leases. Agricultural production
varies greatly from year to year, but normally sugar cane
accounts for as much as 80% of production. 1 /
4of the population is directly dependent on sugar
cane production, which i.a. was hit significantly after the
1990 coup, and the country has even had to import sugar.
Coconuts and ginger are the most important export products
from agriculture. Significant rice production. Poultry, pigs
and cattle are kept from livestock. A newer industry is the
export of bottled water.
Industry and mining
In 2002, manufacturing and mining accounted for 25.4% of
GDP and employed 33.8% of the labor force. The most
important sector is food processing, primarily sugar, syrup
and copra. Otherwise there is production of cement and other
building products. Tax exemption in the industry has
encouraged investment in the textile industry, but there has
been a decline in recent years.
Important minerals that are extracted are gold and
silver, as well as copper mining, which began in 1997.
The energy is mainly based on hydropower.
The country's most important export products are sugar,
gold, fish products (processed and raw) and clothing.
Imports include food, fuel and otherwise mostly machinery,
vehicles and other finished goods. The main export markets
are Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, China and New
Zealand. The same countries, with the exception of the
United Kingdom, are the main sources of imports.
Transport and Communications
Located on the main route between North America and
Australia, Fiji is the most important communications center
in the southwestern Pacific. There is increasing
communication with Asia. The Nadi International Airport on
the west coast of Viti Levu is used as a stopover for
US-Australia/New Zealand flights. National Air Pacific is
flying overseas, while smaller companies like Air Fiji are
responsible for connecting the islands. The country lacks
real railways, but a narrow-gauge grid (725 km) serves the
sugar industry. The road network is relatively well
developed and comprises a 500 km long main road around the
coast of Viti Levu. The main port city is Suva.