Fiji is to open a new embassy in South Korea next year, sending an ambassador from Suva to Seoul.
The new embassy is expected to open in the first half of 2012 to foster trade and investment between Korea and the archipelago about 2,000 km northeast of New Zealand.
It will employ about 5 staff, a Fiji government official said, adding that an ambassador may be selected in the next month.
“We want to open an embassy there because Korea is right in the heart of Asia,” he added.
“Korea and Fiji have long lasting relations. Korea is one of Fiji’s biggest trading partners and we want to promote people-to-people exchanges. Korea also has an embassy in Fiji so that is another reason for us to go there.”
The two countries held their first ever business forum in October.
Fiji’s exports to Korea in 2010 stood at $15.5 million, compared to their peak of $30 million in 2008, while Korean exports to Fiji totaled $18.6 million last year.
Export items from the country include textiles and sugar, while agriculture and tourism form large parts of the economy.
Until now, Fiji has been represented by a Tokyo-based embassy for Japan, Korea, Russia, and the Philippines. The republic of more than 332 islands also has a consulate in Korea.
The Fijian government also plans to establish an embassy in the United Arab Emirates in 2012 and opened missions in Indonesia, Brazil and South Africa this year.
By Kirsty Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org)