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Monday, October 20, 2008

Impact of Global Financial Crisis on Fiji

Much has been said about the potential impact of the global financial crisis on Fiji.

Some academics and professionals have said that there will be minimal impact, if any, on Fiji.

We would rather say that there would be an impact, however, the magnitude of the impact and whether positive or negative would depend on movements in the USD against the FJD, as with other currencies that we have in our currency basket. [The Reserve Bank of Fiji calculates the FJD exchange rates daily from a basket of currencies containing the currencies of our major trading partners.]

Most of our investors may face little impact if they have not invested directly in mortgage-backed securities which have risen out of the sub-prime mortgage lending by banks in the US. However, if they have done so, whether directly or indirectly, then they would be exposed to the crisis.

Refer to the following articles and news items below.

"Global financial crisis impact for Fiji not clear cut, Friday, 17 October 2008, Fiji One News, 6pm

A financial analyst believes the economic impact of the global financial crisis here is not clear cut and can be diluted or worsened.

Gilbert Veisamasama believes the crisis would impact on the Fiji dollar in relation to the US dollar.

It will also depend on how it impacts on other currencies in our currency basket from which the Reserve Bank of Fiji determines the Fiji dollar exchange rates daily.

The Global Financial Crisis continues to raise concern.

According to BBC reports, many investors are now convinced that the US economy, if not already in a recession, is moving towards one.

In Fiji, the economic impact, according to Financial analyst, Gilbert Veisamasama would not be as clear cut.

Veisamasama says, if one or more counterparty bank fails, then the impact multiplies across banks, such as trade with those banks.

The RBF invests Fiji's foreign reserves in deposits with central banks overseas. Veisamasama explains those are safe hence the impact on them might be minimal.

The Association of Banks in Fiji has said they expect little impact from the global financial crisis, as they have sound banking practices and are well regulated."

Check the Fiji TV website,, for copies of the news clip.

"The effect of global financial crisis on govt bonds, Wednesday, 15 October 2008, Fiji One News, 6pm and 10pm

The Global Financial Crisis may have a positive effect on a government loan re-payment, for the150-Million U-S Dollar bond it issued on the international markets, two years ago.

However, the direct impact would be through any movements in exchange rates depending on the weakening of the US-dollar.

The deposed government of Laisenia Qarase had issued its first bond on the international markets for a total of 150-million US dollars for a term of five years.

The issue had raised significant interest amongst international investors in Europe and Asia....and was seven times over subscribed with over ONE BILLION-US-dollars.

With the global financial crisis now unfolding in the US and across the Europe and Asia - a financial analyst says this will be calculated by the US-FIJI exchange rate.

The bond was issued in September 2006 to raise funds for the government and also to meet the 2007 Budget deficit requirements - in particular to finance its capital projects.

Financial analyst, Gilbert Veisamasama says, in this instance the government would benefit as we spend less to meet interest payments.

However, he says the impact might not be as clear cut and it could be diluted or worsened.
Emailed questions to the Deputy Permanent Secretary for Finance Shiri Chand remained un-answered when this bulletin was prepared."

Check the Fiji TV website,, for copies of the news clip.

"Banking system strong, Fiji Times, Tuesday, October 14, 2008

FIJI's banking system is strong and well positioned to meet the challenges of the global environment, say two banks in the country.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited and Westpac Banking Corporation both said they have a secure AA credit rating. AA credit rating denotes a very low expectation of credit risk. ANZ general manager Fiji, Robert Bell said the bank is in a strong position.

"Fiji is fortunate to have three major banks operating in Fiji in similar positions. ANZ is well capitalised, well regulated both in Australia and Fiji and remains profitable," he said.

"One of the impacts of the credit crisis has been the tightening of wholesale credit markets that many banks heavily relied on for funding loans to businesses and customers.

"ANZ Fiji does not rely on wholesale lending so is in a strong position. Therefore to some extent Fiji has been to date cushioned from the global impacts on banks," Mr Bell said. However, Mr Bell said the global economies do have an impact on Fiji. He said the slowing of economic growth in Australia, New Zealand and Asia has the potential to impact Fiji. Westpac general manager Fiji John Cashmore said: "Our focus on Australia, Fiji and the other countries that we operate in, and our disciplined approach to managing risk means that we have no direct exposure to US sub-prime mortgages".

"When many financial institutions around the world were investing in exotic securities, including sub-prime mortgages, we chose not to," said Mr Cashmore said.

Mr Cashmore said the Fiji economy has been well supported by proactive regulatory bodies such as the Reserve Bank of Fiji, who have been ahead of the game and acted when needed. This includes the reduction of interest rates over the last period by the Banks, he said.

"Aside from the RBF restrictions that have been in place for the last two years since the 2006 Coup and the banks normal lending criteria and risk management, there is no impact on lending to our customers -- both personal or business," he said."

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