RESERVE BANK PREDICTS POSITIVE FIJI ECONOMIC GROWTH

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 5, 1999 - PACNEWS)---The Fiji Reserve Bank’s 1999 first quarter report has forecast a modest economic recovery and positive business growth this year.

"Macroeconomic policy settings continue to support growth and the general tenor in the country is that things are looking up," according to the report.

"The outlook for production in the major sectors remains positive, with a very optimistic outlook for sugar, tourism, and garments."

According to the Reserve Bank report, the bullish outlook for sugar production is largely unchanged from last month.

"With a minimum production of 400,000 tons still expected, and only natural disasters such as a hurricane likely to change this scenario, the outlook is positive.

"Other agricultural crops are also picking up sharply. Taro production in 1998 was the highest in the past four years, while kava production in the fourth quarter last year more than doubled in the previous quarter; it also showed the highest quarterly gain in the past two years," according to the report.

While kava comprised only a small portion of total non-sugar agricultural output in 1998, in value terms it generated 50 percent of the total non-sugar agricultural earnings, followed by other root crops, such as taro.

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