Australia has strengthened ties with Fiji after announcing a recovery package to bolster its economy.
The Australian government has announced an investment package that reflects a “shared commitment to economic resilience, health security and stability in our region”.
The $US60 million ($FJ127 million) will assist financing of essential services and support economic growth on fiscal management, private-sector recovery, gender equality and social inclusion.
Fiji believes the support package will normalise trade and tourism that reconnects the region after the country reopened its borders to travellers earlier in the month.
“As a result of severe travel restrictions, the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic ramifications have been steep across the Pacific,” Fiji attorney-general and minister for economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said.
“We appreciate Australia’s confidence in Fiji’s financial management through this direct budgetary support that will help alleviate the socio-economic burden on Fijian society.”
Fiji’s economy has been one of the hardest hit globally over the suspension of international tourism.
Before the pandemic, tourism represented nearly 39 per cent of gross domestic product and more than one in every three adults were employed in the industry.
Australia says it is rewarding Fiji’s effective Covid-19 health response and successful national vaccine rollout.
“By helping each other get through the pandemic, we’ll all be better off,” Minister for the Pacific Zed Seselja said.
“I’m thrilled to see Australian tourists getting back to Fiji, and Fijian businesses getting back on their feet.”
Australia donated a “significant part” of the vaccines that has ensured more than 90 per cent of Fijian adults are double dosed against the virus.
Pacific governments still face significant challenges as they start the post-pandemic road to recovery.
Australia claims to have invested more than $US217 million over the past two years through a Pacific Covid-19 response package to aid recovery efforts during regional lockdown.