Doing Business in Fiji

Expats will find that doing business in Fiji is not a straightforward process, largely due to the bureaucracy involved. However, once the red tape is dealt with, expat businesspeople will likely find that Fijians are very pleasant to work with. There is a casual and friendly (yet respectful) atmosphere to business dealings.  

In the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business survey for 2019, Fiji was ranked 101st out of 190 countries. The country did relatively well in the category of registering property (57th), but it fell short when it came to the ease of starting a business (161st) and getting credit (also 161st).


Fast facts

Business hours

9am to 5pm, from Monday to Friday.

Business language

English

Dress

Not formal. Suits and ties are only worn at formal occasions, which happen rarely.

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 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 should still make sure they arrive in time, and they 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

Expats doing business in Fiji are sure to encounter the country's national drink, kava. Though non-alcoholic, this plant-based drink has a mild narcotic effect. It's often present in business dealings in Fiji, whether as a gift at an introductory meeting or as a celebration of concluding a successful business deal.


Dos and don’ts of business in Fiji

  • Do show respect to senior colleagues and elders

  • Do be punctual even if business associates are not

  • Don't show up to a business meeting in a full suit. Rather wear a light short-sleeved shirt.

  • Do spend time socialising with business associates

Tony F Our Expat Expert

Based in Suva, Fiji, Tony worked for a Development Aid Program from 2008 to 2011. His work required that he travel widely across the Pacific.