Opening Remarks at the Fiji Fashion Council Workshop by Shiu Raj, Director Economic Governance Programme

Fiji Fashion Council Workshop

10 – 12 June 2014

Venue: Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Main Conference Room



Shiu Raj

Director, Economic Governance Programme



Your Excellencies

Members of the Fiji Fashion Council

Invited Guests from the region

Designers, Industry representatives, artists

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen


         On behalf of the Secretary General, it is my pleasure to welcome you all to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and to this Fiji Fashion Council Workshop.

At the outset, let me congratulate the Fiji Fashion Council for their great achievements and for working collectively in producing excellent results for the benefit of the entire nation, and the region. In a short span of time, the Fiji Fashion Councils has reached great heights through the efforts and perseverance of very hardworking and dedicated professionals which have the fashion industry at heart.

You are probably familiar with the famous quote by Oscar Wilde “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”

The workshop today is an attempt for us to educate ourselves on how the Fiji Fashion Industry can be contextualised going forward. Collectively, we will be looking at potential vision, mission and values of the Fiji Fashion Council in meeting the current and future objectives of the fashion industry. As part of this workshop we will also consider setting the short and medium term priorities and define strategies to deliver on the various priorities.

As we engage in our discussions on developing the Strategic Plan for the Fashion industry in Fiji, we need to be mindful of the fact that we do not ‘overdress’ the plan. We need to be realistic about what can be achieved in short to medium term, and build on the lessons of the past going forward.

But let us be ambitious because there is much economic potential in the cultural and creative industries in the Pacific region. We certainly will need to do lots of work to be able to effectively realise the economic value of our cultural and creative assets. It all starts with humble beginnings and the Fiji Fashion Council has already demonstrated what can be achieved through its multiple events and network of artists, designers, models, industry representatives and event organisers.

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is pleased to partner with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the ACP Cultures +, and the fashion industry in the region to support this workshop and the future ones under the regional initiatives. We are grateful to the European Union for their funding in support of this initiative under the broader ACP grouping.

The Forum Secretariat has an elaborate programme to support of the development of cultural industries in the Forum Island countries.

Culture is an integral part of the Pacific region’s way of life. Culture has been the basis of existence for many Pacific communities from generations. We have often seen Pacific culture expressed in diverse forms through art, trade, environment protection, governance, dispute settlement and the list continues.

Promotion of culture is the ability of owners to enter into commercial use of their products through business development, export promotion, market and product development as well as using intellectual property and traditional knowledge protection to license, franchise and sell the culture.  There is significant work being carried out by regional agencies in the area of promotion of culture, with much of the work being driven at entrepreneur levels. We will have the opportunity to discuss these aspects at the workshop in the coming days.

Let me conclude by sharing with you the work being done by the Pacific Islands Trade and Invest network of offices, particularly with respect to the promotion of cultural industries.

Maketi Ples is an established event that creates opportunities for Pacific islands artists and artisans. The Maketi Ples is part of the creative arts programme of the PT&I network, and has been the platform for raising the profile of the artists from the region.

In recent years, the Maketi Ples event has expanded to also include certain aspects of the fashion industry. The latest event in February 2014 provided opportunities for 17 creators from 7 Forum island countries who exhibited approximately 163 objects with the intention to generate sales.

The PT&I network has plans to extend the Maketi Ples event to other regions of the world, including Asia and Europe. Such expansion would certainly provide opportunities for the fashion industry in the region.

There are real opportunities to capitalise on and I encourage you to take these opportunities into account as you develop the Strategic Plan.

I wish you well in your deliberations. 


Thank You. 


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