The Fijian government on Thursday highlighted the importance of developing economic ties with China, thanking China for its assistance to construct a 70 kilometer road in its Northern Division to boost the local economy. Pio Tikoduadua, permanent secretary at the Prime Minister's Office, told the media that a Chinese company is expected to construct the road stretching between Nabouwalu and Dreketi in the country's north, which would be a major boost for the local economy. The remarks followed the recent signing of a major concessional loan agreement by the Exim Bank of China and the Fiji government, involving more than 200 million Fiji dollars (about 114.3 million U.S. dollars), said Tikoduadua. After the road construction, an international port would be the next project in the pipeline for the Northern Division, he added. Permanent Secretary of Finance Filimoni Waqabaca echoed Tikoduadua's remarks, saying Fiji was thankful to China because the loans that they have taken were on concessional rate. He said the recent visit by China's top legislator Wu Bangguo to Fiji was indicative of the growing ties as Fiji was the only country in the South Pacific to be part of his tour that included several other countries from the other parts of the world. According to Waqabaca, Wu and Fijian Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama signed three economic partnerships including the loan for road construction during the visit last week. Crucially, the trip showed not only economic support for the country, but also political support for Fiji's government, Waqabaca said. Fiji is the first Pacific island country to establish diplomatic relations with China. Bilateral ties have developed smoothly since the diplomatic relations were forged in 1975.