3 Aug 2005

Vanuatu and Fiji rekindle biscuit row

7:41 pm on 3 August 2005

A major trade war is looming between Fiji and Vanuatu because of new conditions imposed by Vanuatu on Fiji made biscuits.

Although Vanuatu officially lifted its third ban on Fiji biscuits last month, it imposed new conditions which make it virtually impossible for Fiji biscuits to enter the Vanuatu market economically.

Fiji's minister for foreign affairs and external trade, Kaliopate Tavola, says the new conditions are tantamount to keeping in place the earlier ban on Fiji biscuits.

Mr Tavola says they have received another order signed on the same day by the Vanuatu trade minister, James Bule, imposing the conditions and quotas which violate the Melanesian Spearhead Group free trade agreement.

Mr Tavola says what Mr Bule has done is make a unilateral decision although the agreement requires bilateral consultations.

Fiji is now expected to take retaliatory action which could affect the export of Vanuatu kava to Fiji worth over 3.6 million US dollars a year.

The manufacturer of the Fiji biscuits, Flour Mills of Fiji, has written to the prime minister and Mr Tavola insisting that the conditions imposed by Vanuatu are totally unreasonable and unacceptable.