31 Aug 2005

Fiji calls for Australia to revise SPARTECA trade deal

3:31 pm on 31 August 2005

Fiji is calling on Australia and New Zealand to revise the SPARTECA trade agreement so that it provides better access to their markets for Pacific Island exports.

This follows concerns voiced by the Fiji prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, that the current draft Pacific Plan shows little in the way of assistance to achieve economic growth.

The CEO of the prime minister's office, Jioji Kotobalavu, says a letter will go to the Australian prime minister, John Howard, this week asking for the rules of origin to be reduced from 50 to 35 percent.

This would allow Fiji to export a higher percentage of goods, which were made elsewhere, to Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Kotobalavu says given Mr Qarase's concerns about the draft Pacific plan, more needs to be done immediately to assist Pacific Island economies.

"The reality in the islands is that Australia and New Zealand will always be the most important markets for Pacific Islands exports. Australia has recently increased its aid, New Zealand government has recently doubled its aid but, everybody knows that trade is the best form of help that can assist Pacific Island economies."