The economy has traditionally been largely dependent on the production and export of sugar. However, with the advent of Tourism in the 1960′s and the government’s commitment to encourage growth, the dominance of the sugar industry in the economy had decreased. In 1998, for instance, Fiji’s sugar exports were valued at $244.2 million compared to tourism exports of $568 million. Visitor arrivals reached a record 366,711 while visitors spent an average of 8.5 days in Fiji. The reported hotel turnover was a record $2380.0 million in 1997, an increase of almost $20 million compared to 1996, and the number of rooms sold increased by 4.6% in 1997 compared to the previous year.
The manufacture and export of garments under the government’s taxation concessions and incentives for investment also produces substantial earnings for the economy (F$300 million in 1999) while other major exports includes unrefined gold, timber and coconut oil.
The economy is largely based on private enterprise, with government ownership of service utilities, the national airline Air Pacific, Fiji Post & Telecommunications Limited and the Fiji Sugar Corporation Limited which mills all the country’s sugar.
As mentioned earlier, the government with various taxation concessions has encouraged manufacturing which is exporting oriented. Apart from export orientated industries such as garments and footwear manufacturing also includes concrete, cement and other building materials for domestic and regional use, furniture, foods including alcoholic drinks, processed timber for export and household products to name some of the main items.
The government has significantly deregulated the economy, has restrained government expenditure and is in the process of reforming the taxation system. The emphasis by government is to put the country’s resources to efficient domestic production and export oriented production rather than inefficient production for local markets. As a result, many mport and fiscal duties have been significantly reduced.