4 May 2009

Expulsion from Forum likely to hurt small countries rather than Fiji

4:52 pm on 4 May 2009

An academic from the University of the South Pacific says Fiji's suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum could hurt its small neighbours more than Fiji itself.

Dr Steven Ratuva says he has spoken with people from the interim government who believe the suspension will have minimal impact on Fiji.

But he says its growing isolation from the rest of the Pacific will hurt small countries in the region that depend on it.

"What's going to happen is that regional cooperation as we knew it for a long time since 1972 is going to go through a significant and substantial shift. And the shift is going to affect mostly the small island states like Kiribati, Tuvalu and Tonga who rely significantly on Fiji for economic survival."

Dr Ratuva says the suspension will see Fiji fall more under the influence of China, while Australia and New Zealand will lead the other powerblock in the region.