Building and construction to Fiji
Trends and opportunities
With increased investments in infrastructure projects and rehabilitation after tropical cyclone Winston, the building and construction industry in Fiji is operating at capacity. Local and overseas investors have announced several multi-million dollar projects.
The Fijian Government has committed to investing in capital works in roads, energy, water and sewerage, and the major ports of entry to improve trade facilitation and increase living standards across the country.
The World Bank, European Union and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have announced significant investments and financing of major infrastructure projects in the water and wastewater and roads and transportation sectors.
Some of ADB’s key developments include investment in:
- transport infrastructure
- water and urban infrastructure and services
- renewable energy infrastructure and environment
- public sector management.
The Fiji tourism sector drives building and construction projects for resorts, hotels, airports, marinas and accommodation. Asset maintenance is a critical area of need for hotels, resorts and commercial buildings. Fiji has more than 100 hotels and resorts that have a need for ongoing maintenance and asset management.
New investment projects that have commenced or are expected to commence soon include:
- Wyndham Silk Resort (developed by Guangdong Provincial Government)
- Six Senses Fiji Resort (developed by Vunabaka Bay Development)
- Holiday Inn Resort (developed by Avoser)
- Grand Fijian Tower (developed by Sharma’s Architects Group)
- Smugglers Cove Apartments (developed by Wyndham Hotel Group)
- Momi Bay Resort (developed by Fiji National Provident Fund)
- Vunabaka Bay integrated resort and residential development (New Zealand developer)
- Nadi airport upgrade (funded by Fiji Government)
- expansion works at the Port Denarau Marina.
The Fiji National Provident Fund is the only superannuation body in Fiji. It is one of the key investors in the hotel market with investments in commercial properties and resorts such as the Intercontinental Resort, Holiday Inn, Grand Pacific Hotel and Momi Bay Resort.
The main opportunities for services are in providing consulting for designs, architectural services and project management. Other opportunities include:
- resorts furnishings
- building and construction equipment including composite materials
- drainage and plumbing systems
- lighting products with energy saving controls
- energy and renewable products
- steel and roofing products
- security and automated access systems
- greywater, sanitation and ecofriendly management systems
- prime infrastructure - bridges, roads, water, and electricity towers.
Technical training and skill development is needed in the building and construction trades, such as carpentry, air-conditioning, refrigeration and plumbing.
Companies must be aware of the long lead times from project conception to implementation. Australia’s main competition in the building and construction industry is from New Zealand, China and Malaysia.
Even though the market is perceived to be price sensitive, it does have niche opportunities for high-quality products and services.
Some of the common market challenges include:
- understanding and complying with investment procedures without seeking professional advice
- slow processing of government approvals depending on the investment level
- limited infrastructure in regional areas with readily accessible utilities or local labour and services
- relatively high costs of utilities, especially power and communication
- small population base from which to draw skilled labour.
Tariffs, regulations and customs
The fiscal duty of imports ranges from five to 32 per cent. A nine per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) is applicable on all imports. Businesses registered under the VAT legislation can claim an input tax credit in relation to VAT paid on their imports.
Marketing your products and services
Often a partnership is considered the best method for market entry. Fijian companies prefer to deal with products and services that can be sourced locally which allows for easy access and guidance on maintenance and repairs. A local servicing back-up for maintenance is essential.
In order to develop a good business relationship with those involved in the building and construction industry, you should consider the following:
- Periodically visit Fiji to meet the key people and companies, such as executing, donor and multilateral funding agencies to get updated status of projects, architects and the major hardware outlets.
- Build personal relationships with the industry groups.
- Demonstrate commitment to the industry by maintaining a profile and adopting a long-term outlook.
- Research the market and your potential competitors on a regular basis.
- Companies prefer to have brochures and product samples rather than relying on websites for information.
- Actively develop distribution and supply channels.
Local hardware shops and distributors are important businesses for the entry of imported building materials. They quote on supplies for building projects as a local supply source.
In some cases, major construction companies may import building materials directly to the building site.
Architects and project managers play a very important role in product specification, so it is critical for suppliers to forge relationships with those responsible for a project’s implementation. The cost of materials is a significant factor for project managers.
Major hardware retail and wholesale outlets that supply a range of building products are:
- Vinod Patel & Co Ltd
- R.C. Manubhai & Co. Ltd
- Carpenters Hardware
- Kasabia Hardware.
Australian products have a strong quality reputation, but price and service are important factors.
Links and industry contacts
Fiji Bureau of Statistics
Fiji Institute of Engineers
Fiji Revenue & Customs Authority
Reserve Bank of Fiji
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