Doing Business in Fiji

Doing business in FijiExpats who decide to work or start a business in Fiji will have to tackle a number of bureaucratic hurdles, which means that doing business in Fiji is not straightforward. 

Not many expats move to Fiji for work or to start a business. Most foreigners on the island are either retirees or volunteers doing charity work. The major industries in Fiji are tourism, agriculture, clothing manufacture and mining.
 
Getting a work permit for Fiji can be difficult. Any company wanting to hire a foreigner has to prove to the Department of Immigration that the job could not be done by a Fijian citizen and expats who want to take up employment must have the correct visa before they arrive in the country.

In The World Bank's Ease of Doing Business survey, Fiji was ranked 88th out of 189 countries. The country did relatively well in the category of registering property (55th) however it fell short in dealing with construction permits and protecting minority investors. 
 

Fast facts


Business hours

9am to 5pm, from Monday to Friday.
 

Business language

English
 

Dress

Not formal. Suits and ties are only worn at the most formal occasions, which happen rarely. Business dress at meetings is often colourful and casual.
 

Greetings

A formal handshake is the best way to greet business associates in Fiji. Always show respect towards elders in a business environment. 
 

Gifts

Gifts are expected and appreciated. 
 

Gender equality

The business environment in Fiji is still quite patriarchal.
 

Business culture in Fiji

 
Expats doing business in Fiji are likely to take some time getting used to certain aspects of the local business culture. The sooner expats adjust to the changes, the easier assimilation will be. Fijians are friendly, hospitable people and often go the extra mile to make expats feel welcome. Expect to be invited for dinner at a colleague's home and do accept on the offer but remember to take a gift – it will certainly be appreciated.


Time

New arrivals are often surprised to learn that punctuality at business meetings is not expected, since ‘Pacific time’ allows people to arrive late to scheduled events. Expats will need to be tolerant and patient as time management is more flexible in Fiji than it is in the West.


Management

Senior Fijian associates may not express strong views and be quieter than might be expected in Western business circles. This should not be interpreted to mean they don’t have a view but that they are observing and analysing before they make a decision. Reverence towards elders is also expected, which applies to senior colleagues.
 

Culture

Fijians like to drink, even at business functions. Kava, a mild narcotic drink, is often consumed by businessmen in Fiji. There are particular formalities that take place before Kava is consumed, but expats don't need to worry as their Fijian colleagues should be happy to explain the process. Religion plays a significant role in all aspects of Fijian life, even in the business world and expats shouldn't be surprised if prayers take place before lunch or a meeting.
 

Dos and don’ts of business in Fiji


  • Do show respect to senior colleagues and elders
  • Don’t expect meetings to begin on time. ‘Pacific Time’ means that at least one person will be late for business meetings.
  • Do take time to get to know local colleagues and accept on invitations to visit their homes. This will enable expats to have a richer expat experience and form better business relationships.
  • Don’t turn up to a business meeting dressed in a full suit and tie. Fijian business dress is very casual.

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