23 Jun 2006

Thousands of garments workers in Fiji set to lose their jobs

8:00 am on 23 June 2006

Thousands more garment workers in Fiji will lose their jobs by the end of this year with the Reserve Bank predicting a further 20% drop in the ailing industry's exports.

The Fiji Times reports that after years of fighting for changes to the regional trade agreement, SPARTECA, under which Fiji exports garments to Australia and New Zealand, the foreign affairs minister, Kaliopate Tavola, has virtually given up.

After this week's Pacific trade ministers' meeting in Nadi, Mr Tavola says a review of SPARTECA is being resisted because it is seen as outdated in some quarters.

Mr Tavola says tens of thousands of people in Fiji have become victims of the lack of morals and equity in global economic development.

He says justice in trade is in doubt because the benefits of regionalism and global development are unequal.

In its economic review last month, the Reserve Bank of Fiji said production in the garment industry declined by 35% last year and is expected to drop by a further 20% this year.