Growing business 

and trade between Fiji

and Australia.

The Fiji Australia Business Council (FABC) is a trade association whose sole purpose is to foster trade between Australia and Fiji. The bi-lateral trade relationship between Australia and Fiji is currently estimated to exceed AUD 2 Billion. Thus the trading relationship between the two countries is very important, and has many more opportunities in the future. Fiji needs investment to grow and Australia is looking for new markets to invest in, so the FABC is a key body in assisting with this process.

The executive of the FABC is made up of a number of key executives from major organisations in Fiji. Representative from the Australian High Commission and Austrade are also represented on the executive, therefore giving the FABC excellent access to key Australian diplomats and trade officials.

Investment Fiji is also represented on the executive and this body is the key conduit for new investment in Fiji.

Our contact details

Fiji Australia Business Council
PO Box 2600, Government Buildings, Suva, Fiji

Ph: +679 3301155 (KPMG Suva)

Fax: +679 3301312

Email: fabcsecretariat@kpmg.com.fj / info@fabc.com.fj

What we do

Like most trade associations, the FABC is about relationships. It has excellent relationships with business and government in Fiji and Australia, and can assist its members in these areas when required.

The major event held by the FABC each year is its annual Business Forum. This event is a “must” on everybody’s calendar as it is attended by a large number of business and government leaders from Fiji and Australia. Headlines are always generated from this event as it is closely watched and reported on by the media.

During the year the FABC holds a number of social functions which enable members to catch up and connect. From time to time the Australian High Commissioner will address the membership body to update them on the latest in relations between Australia and Fiji.

The FABC is also a major sponsor of the Prime Ministers Export Awards as well as being a significant supporter of Leadership Fiji.

The FABC prides itself on being active in the business and government circles in Fiji to ensure that it is always aware of the latest information with which to serve its members.

Our Mission

Promote friendship, goodwill and understanding between the business communities of Fiji and Australia to encourage further trade, investment, technical & economic co-operation and tourism by the holding of various activities, meetings and events.

Our Code of Conduct

  • We shall strive to encourage and foster advancement of international and domestic relationship.
  • We shall conduct ourselves to high ethical standards in our businesses and professions.
  • We shall respect the law and act accordingly.
  • We shall act truthfully and fairly with all concerned.
  • We shall respect confidentiality and shall not misuse confidential information.
  • We shall strive to manage conflicts of interests.
The FABC ExCo is made up of a number of key executives from major organisations in Fiji.

Meet the Executive Committee

Lisa Apted

President

Lisa is Partner in charge of the taxation practice of KPMG in Fiji. In a 27 year career with KPMG (2 spent in Australia), mainly in taxation, business services and advisory Lisa helps clients establish business in Fiji and navigate Fiji’s compliance environment. She has worked on a significant number of projects, spanning industry and regulatory reform, financing, privatisation and mergers & acquisitions.
Lisa is a Chartered Accountant member of ICANZ; a Chartered Accountant member (and past president) of Fiji Institute of Accountants and a Fellow of FINSIA. She is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and an Accredited Mediator (Fiji Mediation Centre). She is also a Trustee of Fiji Women’s Rights Movement and a board member of Save the Children Fiji.
Lisa is Fiji born and educated in Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

Dave Aidney

Immediate Past President

Born and bred in Fiji and have been part of the Forwarding / Logistics industry for the past 36 years.

Currently employed by Williams & Gosling Ltd as their Managing Director – an old family company with 335 employees located at offices in Suva, Nadi, Lautoka, Ba and Savusavu.

Whilst previously held positions have included –

Chairman – Fiji Development Bank
President – Fiji Institute of Freight Forwarders & Customs House Agents
President - Fiji Employers Federation
President – Road Haulage Association - Fiji
Board Member – Fiji Trade & Investment Bureau and
Board Member - Maritime & Ports Authority of Fiji

Currently I am being kept busy with the following organisations:

President – FABC
Honorary German Consul – Fiji
Director – Trans Am Fiji
Director – WG Genera Pacific Ltd
Patron – Viti Spinal Injuries Association – Fiji
Trustee – Royal Suva Yacht Club.
Executive Committee Member FNZBC

Married to Sue – with two grown up daughters – plans are underway to enter semi retirement and enjoy more boating and fishing in Fiji’s wonderful waters.

Warwick Pleass

Vice President Membership

Warwick was born in Australia where he was educated and started his career, working there then China and since 1996 in Fiji, where he now is proud of his citizenship. In each country he has owned and managed highly successful beverage industry businesses. He is heavily engaged in community service and is a champion of environmentalism, sustainable development and “cradle to cradle” design for his products.

His main studies were management, business administration, Chinese language and he is a refrigeration tradesman.

On arrival in Suva in 1996 he and his wife Cate established the company now called Pleass Global where he serves as Chairman and Managing Director. This diverse company bottles water, imports packaging, operates an eco tourism park, farms organic spices, and develops property.

Vera Jasinta Chute

Vice President Events

Vera Chute is Managing Director of family owned recycled clothing chain Value City (SP) Ltd which has 17 Branches Fiji-wide and franchises in Tonga, Samoa, Kiribati and Solomon Islands.

Ms Chute is a visionary business leader who leads by example and whose negotiating skills has seen her Company grow since its inception in 1990.

Her professional memberships include
2018 - present Chair – Retailers Council (Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation)
2017 - present Executive Committee – Fiji Australia Business Council
2016 - present Executive Board Member – Women In Business Board
2017 Vice Chair – Women Entrepreneurs Business Council (Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation
2017 Delegate to Global Entrepreneurship Summit Hyderabad India. GES was hosted by
Governments of the United States of America and India
2014 Business Woman of the Year Award – Women In Business

Ms Chute is a single mother of two and doting grandmother of one grandson. She has special interest in mentoring and assisting women in SMEs and the informal sector to give them financial independence.

Saud Minam

Member

Saud is the CEO ANZ Fiji and Head of Commercial Banking ANZ Pacific. In this role he reports to ANZ’s Regional Executive Pacific Ms. Tessa Price, and part of Regional Executive’s team.

Saud grew up in Saudi Arabia before moving to Pakistan. Saud completed his education in the United States. In 1992, after completing his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Saud moved to Pakistan.

In 1994, Saud joined Citibank in Pakistan. After two years he joined ABN AMRO Bank Pakistan where he held various positions, largely within Retail and Commercial Banking.

Saud has worked in five different countries in Asia with ABN AMRO/RBS (Pakistan, Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Indonesia). He launched the Consumer Business in People’s Republic of China in 2003.

At the end of 2008 Saud came to Indonesia, to take up position as Head of Commercial Banking with ABN AMRO Bank, Indonesia..

Saud has been married for over 25 years and has three children, two boys and one daughter. Saud loves to listen and make friends. Also very active on Social media Tweeter and LinkedIn.

Rajeshwar Singh

Treasurer

Rajeshwar Singh is the Chief Financial Officer for the Bank of the South Pacific.

With over 25 years in the private and semi-private sectors, he has a wealth of Finance and related experience whilst working in Fiji and around the South Pacific island nations.

Mr Singh joined the FABC board in Nov 2009. He is the former treasurer and currently hold the position of Vice President since 2014.

Rajesh, is also very active with Fiji Institute of Accountants as a council member and Vice President. He is a qualified Chartered accountant and member of CPA Australia.

Michael Gerard Towler

Member

Michael Gerard Towler (Mike)
Age: 63
Born: Chinchilla Queensland, April 13th 1955
Married to Li Zhu (30 years)
Daughters, Jessica & Lucy (currently studying at ANU)
Managing Director PFD Fiji Ltd & PFD Australia P/L
Manufacturer: Lifejackets, Rescue Equipment & Sublimated Sports Clothing.

Educated at Marist Brothers College Ashgrove Brisbane QLD

Worked: PNG 1971 to 1984 (13 years)
Brisbane Australia 1985 to 1995 (10 years)
Fiji 1996 to present (22 years)
President, Textile Clothing & Footwear Council of Fiji
Acting Chairman, Fiji Exporters Council
Executive Committee, Fiji Australia Business Council
Hobbies: Game Fishing, Travelling (ticking off my bucket list)
Passion: Living & Working in Fiji

Brief reminiscences of past FABC Presidents

Our Past Presidents

James Huey

President, 1986-87

OK, firstly, many of you will remember me as “Jim” Huey @ Westpac … but I have re-branded myself as “James” and I now spend most of my time in China; Westpac is a distant memory -- though Fiji certainly isn’t!
Fiji was my family’s home from late 1983 to the end of 1987.
The biggest highlight of my involvement with the FABC was, of course, its foundation.
I came to Fiji in 1983 with the knowledge from Westpac’s international operations, that there were several other successful bilateral Business Council functioning in and between Australia and Asian regional countries. After a while, I thought, why not Fiji?
In 1985 I prevailed on my colleagues at Westpac in Australia to consider driving the establishment of an Australia Fiji Business Council, while I could work to get the wheels rolling to set up a counterpart Fiji Australia Business Council.
So the parallel impetus was started, and as I recall with the support of the well-respected Sir Ian Thomson, I started to drum up interest among businesses operating in Fiji with an Australian connection. Ken Roberts who was then the Secretary of the Fiji Employers’ Consultative Association (FECA) provided a lot of leads and introductions, and the administrative and secretarial services. We also worked to get government support and recognition at both ends.
We launched both Councils together in the first half of 1986 with a joint meeting and functions in Sydney (I am hazy about the date – was it April?). The rest is history.
Of course, another major highlight of my time – some might say it was a “lowlight” – was the military coup in 1987, when shortly after 10.00 am on May 14th, Sitiveni Rabuka staged Fiji’s first coup! All hell broke loose. At that time, I was having a discussion in my office with an Australian entrepreneur who was considering an investment in fruit processing in Fiji. The discussion was more in my role as President of the FABC than as Chief Manager of Westpac. I was blithely telling this guy not to worry about the demonstrations that had been occurring in the streets of Suva. I said that when the people of Fiji realised that the newly elected government had broadly similar development and economic policies to the ousted government, things would quieten down into the usual idyllic harmony of Fiji -- and just then my Secretary burst into the room to tell me that the military have taken over the parliament! I asked the guy to leave, and to forget what I had said, things might be different now, and at that moment I had to handle more pressing priorities.
There is a lot that can be said about those times, and lots of anecdotes. With the passing of time, it probably fair to say now that in my role as President of FABC, and with the strong support of our committee and members, I was able to facilitate a lot more rational dialogue between the respective governments and the major players on all sides of politics, than was happening through the more “official” government to government channels. We, as FABC, also were very active in urging a “business as usual” approach, rather than overt hand-wringing and moralising.
Of the surviving Presidents who followed me, Ikbal Jannif and Ross Addison were also key FABC committee members in the post-Coup days. I add my personal tribute and respect to those past Presidents who are no longer with us: Don Aidney, Greg Blakeny, and Dhiraj Hemraj, who were also fellow members at that time.
Maybe we can get onto some of those anecdotes over a beer or two.

Ikbal Jannif

President, 1988-89

Meeting held in Dominion House where the Aussie High Com was housed at that time. Other VP was Padam Lala.

Took over as President in 1987 following the departure of Jim Huey following the Rabuka Coup in May 1987. (Was also President of the Suva Chamber of Commerce at the time, and was targeted by the military when Suva shopkeepers decided to close their shops as a sign of protest.)

Difficult period for trading with Australia as Aussie Gov’t under PM Hawke placed travel restrictions on Fiji, and Aussie trade unions imposed trade bans on Fiji…….the loading and unloading of ships with cargo destined for Fiji, or arriving from Fiji, causing a shortage of staple food items such as onions, potatoes, rice etc.

Fiji reacted with its “Look North”, and suddenly Asian products began to replace those products that had previously been coming from Australia. This was reinforced when the Rabuka interim Gov’t was set up, with Trade Minister the late Mr Vunibobo leading the charge.

Made several trips to Aust to try and have the trade sanctions removed, or at least relaxed. Aussie Gov’t was receptive to a small extent, but Aussie trade unions continued its stance.

Attended the World Expo in Brisbane with the Fiji delegation as FABC a funding partner, and assisted with the manning the Fiji stand.

Re-appointed President in 1989, and hosted the first FABC/FABC joint conference at the Fijian. Minister Vunbobo was chief guest.

Handed presidency over to the late Don Aidney in 1991.

Mark Halabe

President, 1999-2000

BIO:

1999 - Chairman of the Textile Clothing and Footwear Council of Fiji.

1999-2001 - President of the Fiji/Australia Business Council.

2000 - Appointed Chairman of the Productivity & Quality Training Board

2001 - Appointed a member of the Prime Ministers Think Tank

2012 - Inaugural Chairman Fiji Fashion Council.

AWARDS:
2000 Member of the Order of Fiji for Service to Industry.
2002 Awarded the Prime Ministers Exporter of the Year.
2011 Fiji Business Excellence Awards PRIZE level
2014 Awarded the Prime Ministers Exporter of the Year.
2017 Awarded the Prime Ministers Excellence in Business Leadership.

FABC:

Post Coup 2000 was a challenging time!

The FABC tried to knit back the good will lost since the 2000 upheavals.

An unelected Fiji government not recognised by Australia/NZ as legitimate until after the 2001 elections.

Repercussions of the lingering Union ban on Fiji’s economy.

FABC became the back channel for mending the diplomatic split.

Susan Boyd was the High Commissioner.

Laisenia Qarase the newly minted Prime Minister after winning the 2001 election and prior to the elections appointed by Voreqe Bainimarama to lead the interim Government.

As the High Commission could not hold an official Australia Day celebration the FABC ran its own.

We invited who ever we wanted and there were many on the side (unofficial) meetings during the event.

We also brought in an Australian band “Small Mercies” played a concert in Suva and Nadi.

David Evans

President, 2005-06

Lead the Fiji delegation in the Fiji-Australia Bilateral Trade Talks
Tried to introduce some innovative speakers to the FABC conference including flying in a former Minister from the Irish Government
Successful AFBC-FABC conference on the Sunshine Coast
Worked with the committee to monitor the 2006 coup and keep our heads down!
Managed Martin Darveniza’s ego!

Ajay Raniga

President, 2011-12

Key Highlights from years 2011- 2012

FABC would act as a conduit between the Australian High Commission and the Fijian Government
IN 2011 any person who participated in any of the Government boards were imposed with travel sanctions. We had numerous discussions with the High Commission with regards to these travel bans and the implications it was having on our economy. Our sentiments on this issue were then expressed back to Canberra.
We strongly opposed the threat made by TWA to boycott servicing of Fiji bound aircrafts which would have crippled our tourism industry. Had an audience with the Acting High Commissioner, Judith Robinson to express our concerns regarding the implications of such a threat to the Fijian economy
Supported the TCF council by writing to Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd for the renewal of SPARTECA TCF scheme which was due to expire 31/12/2011.
We conducted a closed session with Permanent secretaries at Holiday Inn. This was very well received by the membership
Had meetings and networking session at the AHC with the heads of each department.
Another highlight was the 25th Anniversary dinner and networking at Holiday Inn. This event was attended by a number of our Past presidents and it was great going down memory lane.
Met the Australian Foreign Minister Hon Bob Carr and continued to express our Councils concerns with regards to the travel bans imposed by the Australian Government. It was pleasing to note later in the year that there was some relaxation in the travel bans.