19 Aug 2004

OXFAM says Fiji must be helped to restructure garment industry

8:29 pm on 19 August 2004

There's a call for New Zealand and Australia to help Fiji re-structure its vital garment industry to improve its competitiveness.

The industry has employed up to 18 thousand people but its viability has been eroded as preferential access to markets begin to disappear.

Barry Coates of OXFAM has welcomed Australia's announcement that it will extend preferential access to the Australian market for another seven years.

Mr Coates says the Australian decision gives some breathing space, but the Fiji garment industry remains under considerable threa.

He says Australia and New Zealand, which encouraged the establishment the industry, need to help it respond to the changing market pressures.

"in Australia and New Zealand there are quite innovative schemes for involving trade unions, NGOs, the garment industry and government in being able to reform the industry so that parts of the industry can remain internationally competitive. And a similar process we believe needs to be undertaken in Fiji"