| || || Nailatikau, Merewalesi Vakasilimitukana|
| || || Fiji : a regional hub in a changing world|
Author:Nailatikau, Merewalesi Vakasilimitukana
Institution: University of the South Pacific.
Award: M.A. Development Studies
Subject: Fiji -- Foreign economic relations -- Oceania, Fiji -- Economic conditions, Oceania -- Economic conditions
Call No.: pac HC 685 .5 .N35 2014
Copyright:10-20% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission
Abstract: Fiji has occupied a unique position in the social, political and economic landscape of the South Pacific region, particularly in the 4 decades following independence. However, the country faces mounting developmental challenges, compounded by the complications of its own political instability and developments in neighbouring countries. This research poses the central question: Given recent global and regional developments, what are the perceptions surrounding Fiji’s future as a diplomatic and economic hub for the Pacific? This research addresses the above question by exploring the influences in people’s perceptions of Fiji’s regional standing, its historical origins, contemporary and future implications. The ‘region’ as defined here refers to member states of the Pacific Islands Forum, excluding Australia and New Zealand. The economic (international trade and investment) and political (diplomatic relations) sectors form the focus of the research, which draws from a literature survey and personal interviews with fourteen key informants from within the aforesaid sectors across Fiji, the Pacific and globally. Interviews were then analyzed in relation to the research questions. As the research involves socially constructed views, the social constructivist approach was employed, which gives primacy to the meanings and significances people lend to the situations they observe. The literature survey discussed hub-related schools of thought including the central placement theory, network society theory, game theory, new economic geography perspective and theoretical framework of megacities, evaluating their relevance to Fiji’s regional position. Interviews confirm that Fiji’s history of coups from 1987 to 2006 has lent the country a reputation for political instability but informants maintain the country continues to offer better living conditions in terms of personal security, good infrastructure, an urbanized, well-qualified workforce as well as communications and transport connectivity. Informants pointed out Fiji’s political instability fails to discourage international organizations, aid agencies and enterprises from establishing regional operations centres in the country post-2006. Yet despite the positives in Fiji’s favour, nothing is certain. The continuation of Fiji’s hub role depends on the ability of its people – and particularly its leadership – to adapt, overcoming barriers of distance, culture and politics, and evolving continually with the inevitable changes of today’s globalized world.