Fiji Signs MOU with Pampanga State Agricultural University – The Philippines

In a milestone development, the Hon. Inia Seruiratu, Minister for Agriculture, Rural & Maritime Development and National Disaster Management signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Dr. Honorio M. Soriano Jr, the President of Pampanga State Agricultural University (PSAU), Magalang, Pampanga, Philippines on 13 January 2016.

The MOU allows Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture to use PSAU expertise in identifying Fijian agricultural products for commercial development and actually assist the private sector in Fiji, to fully develop these for commercial markets in Fiji and overseas.  Training and student exchange programs is also part of the MOU.

The Hon.Seruiratu and the Ministry of Agriculture officials were accompanied by H.E Mataitoga, who is Fiji’s non-resident Ambassador to the Philippines.

Agri 1

Dr Apaitia Macanawai, Mr Tomasi Tuinabuna, Hon Inia Seruiratu, Ambassador Mataitoga and Dr. Ravi Joshi




High Level International Diplomacy in Philippine: Asia-Pacific Regional Seminar for Parliaments on Translating International Human Rights Commitments into National Realities.


Hon.Luveni Manila

Hon. Dr. Jiko Luveni, Speaker of Parliament at the Conference Main.

The Asia-Pacific Regional Seminar for Parliaments themed “Translating International Human Rights   Commitments into National Realities: the Contribution of Parliaments to the Work of the UN Human Rights Council” was held in Manila, Philippines from 26-27th February 2015. The Honourable Dr. Jiko Luveni, Speaker of the Republic of Fiji’s Parliament, attended the Conference on the invitation of the President of the Senate Office of Philippine, Honourable Mr. Franklin Drilon. She was accompanied by the Acting Deputy Secretary General, Mrs. Jeanette Emberson, and Counsellor Julia Korovou of the Fiji Embassy Tokyo, who rendered support and secretariat services. Fiji’s Honorary Consul (HC) for Philippine, Mr. Pineda Jr. was also on hand.

Madame Speaker Manila

Hon. Dr. Luveni Presiding Over Panel Session on Common Challenges regarding the human rights situation in Asia-Pacific.

The Conference’s objective was to inform participants about how the Human Rights Council functions and alert them to the importance of becoming more involved. The meeting aimed to identify good parliamentary practices in working with the Council and in promoting and protecting human rights in general, in particular, by initiating an effective and continuous dialogue with other stakeholders such as national institutions and civil society. It also aims to determine the appropriate cooperation framework among other stakeholders, in particular the executive, national human rights institutions, civil society and parliaments with a view to maximising the latter’s contribution to the promotion of human rights.

Madame Speaker Manila 2

Hon. Dr. Luveni addressing the Conference at the beginning of the Panel Session .


Madame Speaker moderated a Panel Session titled “Common Challenges regarding the human rights situation in Asia-Pacific.” The session aimed to examine how States in the region, with the help of parliaments, have been able to address some of these issues notably: ensuring the proper administration of justice; and Climate Change, environment and global warming/Climate Justice.


Madame Speaker Manila 3

Hon. Dr. Luveni with Mr. and Mrs. Pineda Jr. at dinner.





On the eve of 27th February, the Honourable Dr. Luveni along with Mrs. Emberson and Counsellor Korovou were hosted to a dinner by HC Pineda Jr. and Mrs. Pineda. Madame Speaker expressed her sincere gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Pineda Jr. for their generosity and assistance provided during the course of her Conference, and requested that her Office be informed of their Madame Speaker Manila 4visit to Fiji in June as she wishes to organise for them a tour of Fiji’s Parliament Office.


Initiating Economic Cooperation with Philippine

Counsellor Korovou convened a follow-up meeting with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Philippines on Wednesday, 25th February 2015 which was presided over by Mr. Raymond Albert H Batac, Executive Director Foreign Trade Service Corps. Officials from the various divisions of the DTI viz Bureau of Micro & SME Development, Consumer & Industrial Division, Export Marketing Bureau, Business Development Division and Industrial Policy Service were in attendance.

DTI Manila Feb 2015

Counsellor Korovou and Officials of DTI Manila. At the top right is Mr. Batac Executive Director Foreign Trade Service Corps.

At the outset, Counsellor Korovou sincerely thanked Mr. Batac and his Officials for their warm reception and remarkable presence. She underlined the purpose of her meeting was to follow-up on certain issues that were last discussed at their first meeting held in October 2014  and also to initiate meaningful cooperation that are mutually practical and beneficial. The meeting reiterated the fact that there is currently insignificant trade between Fiji and the Philippine hence, the logic to explore other areas of feasible meaningful economic cooperation. Counsellor Korovou mentioned that the first Philippine/Fiji DCA is soon to be completed and ratified by both the Ministers for Foreign Affairs expectantly by 2nd or 3rd Quarter of the year. To that end, she remarked that the Agreement would leverage some of the cooperation prospects that would be classified in this and subsequent meetings. DTI’s request for a copy of a Draft DCA for their information and views was noted.

Few issues were drawn from the outcomes of the previous meeting which encompassed the Philippine national and international trade and investment exhibitions such as the FAME, IFEX, as well as how Fiji would like to learn from Philippine’s best practices in the management of SMEs and Micro-business as this is one of the development policies of the Fijian Government to growing a sustainable economy. Mr. Batac advised that it would be ideal for Fiji to first participate as an observer in such immense expositions to gauge the nature of business environment, product types and quality of participants to assist with their diligence on the level of participation – whether as a trade or investment player in successive events. An invitation to Fiji for the next exhibition was noted.

Counsellor Korovou explained that given the paltry level of trade and investment between the two countries it would be ideal to seek cooperation in the areas of capacity building in terms of self-help projects in fashion design and jewelleries, SMEs enhancement, entrepreneurship and management courses for women, and investment/product packaging and promotion strategies for export products. Mr. Batac and the DTI officials concurred with the capacity building cooperation alluded to as appropriate and practical to build and progress economic relations between the two countries, particularly given the backdrop of the Philippine’s economy as constituting 99% of SMEs. It was noted that the APEC 2015 in Philippines will host SMEs workshops focusing on capacity building in supply chains – food, handicraft and automotive as the focal products. Counsellor Korovou mentioned that Fiji though not a member of APEC was invited by the Russian Federation Government who played host in 2012 to participate at the APEC meeting in Vladivostok. In that regard, the Bureau of SMEs considered to issue Fiji an invitation to participate at their APEC SMEs programme.

Keen interest focused on fashion design and jewelleries using local resources unique to Fiji per se. Counsellor Korovou mentioned that though this is an infant industry in Fiji there is significant potential based on the talents being demonstrated by youths. Assistance to help produce fashion and jewelleries for high end markets abroad was underscored, as such sector is envisaged to create self-help projects and employment for the Fijians if appropriately supported with the right learning aptitude, skills and entrepreneurial knowledge essential to successfully produce for international niche markets. As such, the DTI recommended dialogue with certain Departments and Organisations to further discuss this initiative, namely the Design Centre of Philippines and Department of Science and Technology. DTI advised that it would be fitting for Fiji to promote its indigenous fabric/resources by maintaining their look but evolve them to attract high end markets. Tax incentives, capacity building, product specification/development, initial financing facilities and subsidisation of raw materials including private sector partnership were underscored to have all contributed to the successful and strong SMEs in the Philippines. DTI mentioned that an ideal cooperation in which Philippine could pursue with Fiji is to learn from its tourism development success inclusive of the construction process of five star hotels and related infrastructure, an area that Philippine endeavours to advance.

By common consent the following were identified as practical spheres of cooperation to explore: exchange of information; capacity development; exchange study missions; expositions and tourism/hotel development.  Both parties committed to effect necessary follow-up to progress mutual beneficial economic cooperation between Fiji and Philippine. In closure, Counsellor Korovou thanked Mr. Batac and his team for their time and invaluable exchanges.

Deepening Bilateral Relation with Philippines through Meaningful ODA

On Tuesday, 24th February, Counsellor Korovou met with Ambassador Jose Maria Carino of the Technical Cooperation Council of Philippine, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) along with his Planning/Programme Officer-Mr. Manuel Almira. The meeting with Ambassador Carino was initiated during Counsellor Korovou’s audience with Mr. Jason Anasarias the Assistant Director for Asian and Pacific Affairs of the DFA Philippine on 23rd February. At the outset Counsellor Korovou expressed her sincere appreciation to Ambassador Carino for endorsing the meeting request at a very short-notice. The meeting succinctly manoeuvred to underline focal areas of cooperation that are of priority to Fiji as well as would be practical for the TCCP to implement within the 2015 fiscal year. Counsellor Korovou advised that inter-alia agri-business, agri-tourism, entrepreneurship capacity development, downstream processing of local resources, aquaculture, TQM and investment/product packaging are certain spheres high on the list for technical cooperation. In that regard, Ambassador Carina, advised on the following cooperation that the TCCP could arrange and implement as early as in April or May; 1) Organic farming and agri-tourism; and 2) Gender development and entrepreneurship for women.

TCCP Manila

Ambassador Carino, Counsellor Korovou and Mr. Almira

Other prospective areas mentioned for technical cooperation include fruit preservations and fish preservation. Ambassador Carino remarked that the South-South Cooperation have largely underpinned the level of cooperation either bilaterally or multilaterally between Philippines and PICs as well with Asian countries. Countries that have benefitted from the same joint venture or cooperation were Myanmar, East Timor, Nauru and Tuvalu.   In closure, Counsellor Korovou sincerely thanked Ambassador Carino for the proposed joint venture and advised that she would need to confer with the relevant authority/Ministry in Fiji and revert with advices. Ambassador Carino expressed high hopes for the cooperation to materialise.

Deepening Relation with the Republic of Philippine

On Monday, 23rd February, Counsellor Korovou convened a meeting with Mr. Jason Anasarias the Assistant Director for Asian and Pacific Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs Philippine and Ms. Lyza Viejo to follow up on certain bilateral concerns that were discussed at their meeting of October 2013 in Manila with the object to deepen the two countries bilateral relation. The focal issues of discussion encompassed the Fiji/Philippines DCA which is yet to be to ratified; the Fiji/Philippine Coconut Authority MOU; Fiji’s Minister for Foreign Affairs visit to Philippines; and establishment of a Joint Council Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) or Senior Officials Meetings as the ideal mechanism for periodical follow-up to Ministerial meetings.

DFA Manila

Mr. Anasarias, Counsellor Korovou and Ms.Lyza Viejo

A progressive update on the Fiji/Philippines Bilateral DCA was provided by both parties in which it was noted that the Fijian Government would soon complete its emendation of the DCA text including response to comments by the Philippine Government, for the latter’s consideration. Counsellor Korovou underscored the aspiration to have the DCA ratified by both the Ministers’ for Foreign Affairs during the Ministerial visit of Honourable Ratu Inoke Kubuabola to Manila tentatively in the 2nd or 3rd  Quarter of 2015. Mr. Anasarias concurred with the signing timeline and also informed that the DCA text would be finalised in next to no time by their Government . Follow up on pending MOUs and initiated bilateral Agreements would be effected by both parties with progressive updates. On the Ministerial visit, Mr. Anasarias informed that the Philippine Government would await the advice of the Fiji Government via a Note Verbale to progress all needful. Also, both parties concurred with the proposition to incorporate as an agenda of the Ministerial dialogue the establishment of a Senior Officials or Joint Council Bilateral Cooperation as a follow-up mechanism to the Ministers’ meetings.

Progress on the trilateral cooperation arrangement of which the Philippine Government is pursuing as means to assist Pacific Island Countries in the frame of its Foreign Policy objectives and underpinning the South-South Cooperation was deliberated . Necessary external interventions inclusive of  appropriate undertakings by each concerned nation state was noted as fundamental to propel the cooperation. Dialogue with relevant agencies in this regard was also mentioned to impel this regional initiative. In closure, both parties underlined the need to fast-track the timely completion of the DCA as well as the requirements to progress the scheduled Ministerial visit.

Exploring and Initiating Fiji/Philippine Aqua-Economic Cooperation

Counsellor Korovou met with the officials of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on 23rd February 2015 at the BFAR Office, Manila with the object to establish strategic contacts and explore possible mutual cooperation. The meeting was attended to by Dr. Nelson A Lopez, Chief of Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Division, Ms. Prescilla B Regaspi-Supervising Aquaculturist, Ms.Irma F Ortiz-Seaweed-culturist, Mr. Roy Ortega, Brackishwater Aquaculturist, and Mr. Balar- Aquaculturist. At the outset, Counsellor Korovou expressed her gratitude to Dr. Lopez and his staff for availing time from their busy schedule to meet with her and stated the purpose of her meeting  thus was to establish contacts with the Bureau and to explore  meaningful cooperation between Fiji and Philippine in the spectrum of aquaculture. The meeting, therefore, served as a preparatory process and space for initial findings for the planned visit of Fiji’s Minister for Fisheries and Forests to Philippine in the 2nd Quarter of 2015. In his prologue, Dr. Lopez introduced the major spheres of their aquatic resources which incorporate freshwater fishpond (milkfish and tilapia); brackishwater fishpond; fish pen and fish cage in fresh and marine waters, and mariculture of oyster, mussel and seaweeds. Notably, in 2012, the Aquaculture fisheries sub-sector contributed the highest value of about P92.3 billion or 38.8%  of total fishing industry production compared with the commercial and municipal sub-sectors contribution of P65.89 billion (27.7%) and P79.5 billion respectively.

 BFAR Manila Feb 2015

Practical experiences of fisheries projects in terms of gender basis approach in the Philippine were keenly noted. The range of fish farming practices in inland and coastal areas as well as marine were described including their various national aquaculture programmes. Appropriate legal instruments were mentioned as vital for the success of aqua-agri industry and its economics as in the case of Philippine. The presence of academic marine institutions in the Philippine was also highlighted, underscoring marine science and ecosystem as prominent courses currently embraced in Europe and Asia. Capacity building programmes for their youth population was also discussed. In that vein, Counsellor Korovou alluded to the prospect of exploring practical exchange studies and technical cooperation between the two countries. As such it was informed that Aquaculture is being considered as one of the significant sectors to growing a sustainable Fijian economy, apparently by way of establishing self-help projects and employment and long-term food security in view of Climate Change. Hence, Fiji desires to learn more on aquaculture economics from the Philippines through relevant mutual cooperation and technical exchanges with relevant agro-research and development laboratories and institutions.  Dr. Lopez assured that his Office would be prepared to render assistance to FET in future and thus encouraged follow on exchanges underpinning the objective and outcomes of the said meeting.  The Bureau looks forward to receiving Fiji’s Minister for Fisheries and Forests during his course of visit to the Philippine. In closure, Counsellor Korovou expressed gratitude to Dr. Lopez and his staff for the dialogue and insightful exchanges that transpired.


Expanding Fiji’s Footprints in the Philippine

As the designated diplomat for the Fiji-Philippines relations at the Fiji Embassy in Tokyo, Counsellor Julia Korovou visited the Philippines from 20th to 24th October 2014 to undertake a series of meetings and interactions with government stakeholders and business community with the view to establish contacts and to strengthen diplomatic and economic relations, consistent with the Government’s Look North Policy and its Foreign Policy objectives.

HC Manila

HC Pineda Jr., Counsellor Korovou, Mr. Juan Pineda.

The programme commenced with an audience with Fiji’s Honorary Consul in Philippines, Mr. Jesus M. Pineda and his Executive Vice President, Mr. Juan Carlos Pineda, on Tuesday 21st October. At the outset Counsellor Korovou expressed her gratitude for the generous assistance and cooperation rendered by the Honorary Consul in organising the requested meetings and for the logistic arrangements, followed by an update on Fiji’s successful general election. The meeting deliberated on the cooperation prospects between the two countries and bilateral issues currently in progress which require due follow-ups and follow-through. Such are the Fiji/Philippines Bilateral Development Cooperation Agreement, the ratification of the three (3) MOUs between Fiji and the Philippines Coconut Authority, Fiji and IRRI, Fiji and the University of Philippines Las Banos. Also discussed were means in which FET could expand Fiji’s diplomacy and profile in Philippines by way of courtesy visits and calls on Provincial Governors and City Mayors including business community and civil society.

 Conversation on the economic front encompassed the distribution of Fiji’s tax breaks and tourism information, the proposed Fiji Business and Tourism Seminar tentatively scheduled for January 2015, and the business opportunities that prevail in Fiji as well as in the Philippines. As such business interests in the fields of appliances, food manufacture and power in Fiji were expressed by Mr. Juan Pineda. HC Pineda thus advised that he and his family would visit Fiji in March 2015 to explore business prospects and for vacation, and also take with him few business affiliates who would wish to invest in Fiji.

Counsellor Visit to the Philippines

As the designated diplomat for the Fiji-Philippines relations at the Fiji Embassy in Tokyo, Counsellor Julia Korovou visited the Philippines from 20th to 24th October 2014 for a series of meetings and interactions to further boost diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries. She started off with a meeting with Fiji’s Honorary Consul in Manila Mr. Jesus M. Pineda and his Executive Vice President, Mr. Juan Carlos Pineda which was held on Tuesday, 21st October. This was the first time that Counsellor Korovou ever met with HC Pineda and at the outset thanked him for his generous assistance and cooperation in organizing the programme of the visit as well as the logistic arrangements. Important issues discussed during the encounter covered the Fiji/Philippines Bilateral Development Cooperation Agreement, the signing of the 3 MOUs, Ambassador Mataitoga’s proposed visit and courtesy calls on Provincial Governors and City Mayors and the Seminar on Fiji Business Environment and Tourism tentatively scheduled for January 2015. Counsellor Korovou also took time to give an update on the political situation in Fiji after the elections. In response, HC Pineda advised that he and his family are planning to visit Fiji in March 2015 to explore some business opportunities and at the same time take with him a few business affiliates who may wish to invest in Fiji.


Ms. Bogot, Mr. Espallardo and Counsellor Korovou

On Wednesday, 22nd October, Counsellor Korovou was able to meet with Ms. Angel Bognot of Afro Asian World Events and Mr. Teody Espallardo of Manila Travel Agent. The purpose of the meeting was to solicit for their support in facilitating the Mission’s request for holding a Fiji Business Seminar in Manila, Philippines in January 2015 to aggressively promote Fiji as a tourist destination to Filipinos. At the outset, Counsellor provided a brief on Fiji’s profile articulating on its population and economic growth, macroeconomic environment as well as the history of the tourism industry in Fiji, Discussion then focused on the seminar preparation covering the programme, participants and the proposed budget. Ms., Bogot also gave a brief account of the tourists industry in the Philippines given the recent increase in outbound travel particularly those in the province due to high remittances from families living abroad.   According to her, this proposed seminar is assessed to be huge given the status of Philippines participants and their high expectation of such events. Hence, it was then recommended that theFiji Business Seminar be rescheduled to either the month of April or June in 2015 to give ample space for the preparation.

The meeting with Mr. Jason Anasarias, Assistant Director for the Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs was held on Thursday, 23rd October 2014 and the discussion focused of the following issues: The Fiji/Philippine DCA that is yet to be ratified; The three MOUs viz Fiji/PCA, Fiji/IRRI, and Fiji UPLB; Deepening of relations through Ministerial visits; Establishment of Joint Council Bilateral Cooperation [JCBC] or SOMs periodical meetings as follow-up mechanism to Ministerial meetings and further exploring other possible economic; social, cultural and technical cooperation in Agri-business, Food processing/value adding and Total Quality Management. In conclusion, both parties reiterated on the need to fast-track ratification of the DCA as this would be the overarching bilateral guide that would further initiate establishment of subsequent bilateral cooperation of mutual advantage to both countries.

Minister Seruiratu Meets Vice President of the Philippines, HE Jejomar Binay in Manila

The Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forests Lt Col Inia Seruiratu began his official visit to the Philippines on Monday, 28 April 2014. He was accompanied by a team of senior government officials which included the Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Mr. Ropate Ligairi and the Permanent Secretary for Fisheries and Forests Mr. Inoke Wainiqolo together with Fiji’s Non Resident Ambassador to the Philippines HE Isikeli Mataitoga.

The four day visit allowed Minister Seruiratu to meet His Excellency the Vice President of the Philippines HE Mr Jejomar BINAY and his Ministerial counterpart in the Philippine Government, Secretary Presco ALCALA. In the bilateral ministerial meeting, the two ministers discussed and agreed on cooperation between the Philippines and Fiji in the coconut industry in Fiji, assistance in agriculture will cover development of aqua-farms and rice industries cooperation and how the Philippines has developed special financial products for small and medium enterprises in the primary industry sector.

HE Mr Jejomar BINAY Vice President of the Philippines and Minister for Agriculture Fisheries & Forests Mr. Inia Seruiratu

After the meetings in Manila on Monday 28 April and the morning of Tuesday 29 April the Ministerial Team traveled to Laguna City to visit the International Rice Research Institute [IRRI] and the University of the Philippines, Los Banos for the rest of their visit in the Philippines. The issues prioritized by the visiting Fijian Delegation include briefing and detail consultation from the Philippine Coconut Authority [PCA] covering all aspects of coconut commercial farming and the development of commercial products from Coconut. This would assist in the Bainimarama Government’s policies in developing new products from its primary industries for exports, in its effort to widen the benefits of economic growth in Fiji. The delegation also visited the International Rice Research Institute [IRRI], a world leader in rice research and where the Fijian delegation pursued to get experts to undertake and audit gap analysis of the Fijian Rice Industry that would reset the basis of sustained excellent growth in Fiji.

The Minister for Agriculture Fisheries & Forests Mr Inia Seruiratu with Mr Eucilides Carpio the Administrator of the Philippine Coconut Authority and members of Fijian Delegation


In a ceremony held at the Malacanang Palace, Manila today, 10 January 2013, Ambassador Isikeli Mataitoga presented his credentials as Fiji’s Non Resident Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines to His Excellency Mr. Benigno S. Aquino III, President of the Philippines. Ambassador Mataitoga was accompanied by his wife Mrs. Venina Mataitoga.



In presenting his Letters of Credence to HE President Benigno Aquino III, Ambassador Mataitoga thanked the President, the government and the people of the Philippines for their support and goodwill towards Fiji, as it undergoes its current reform and modernization programs. He also expressed the sincere desire of Fiji to deepen its bilateral relations with the Philippines and further enhance mutual cooperation in the United Nations and other international fora.

Ambassador Mataitoga later attended the Vin d’ Honneur hosted by the President for the newly accredited Ambassadors to the Republic of the Philippines. He also held meeting with two business leaders to explore potential areas of trade and investment with Fiji.