NEW U.S. QUARANTINE REGULATIONS

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EAST-WEST CENTER Pacific Islands Development Program Joint Commercial Commission Honolulu, Hawai‘i

Press Release August 24, 1999

TO BENEFIT FIJI'S AGRICULTURE SECTOR

Addressing long-held concerns that strict U.S. laws are hindering the growth of Fiji's agricultural sector, the United States for the first time will allow the transshipment of Fijian agricultural products through Hawai‘i.

The action by the U.S. Department of Agriculture resulted in part from activities of the United States/Pacific Island Nations Joint Commercial Commission (JCC), according to Scott Kroeker of the East-West Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP). The Commission was proposed at the U.S.-Pacific Islands Summit convened by President George Bush at the East-West Center in 1990. The JCC, which functions to promote mutually beneficial commercial and economic relations between the United States and the Pacific Island countries, was formally established in 1993. The Center's PIDP serves as its secretariat.

"Provided they follow packaging guidelines, Fiji will now be allowed to transship agricultural produce through Hawai‘i and on to Canada, where there is a large Fiji Islander community," said Kroeker, the JCC Project Officer. "There is a significant latent market for Fijian produce in Canada, but getting the product to that market has been hindered by U.S. restrictions and existing airline routes."

Agriculture is the single largest sector of Fiji's economy, contributing $360 million (21 percent) annually to the gross domestic product and employing 50 percent of the nation's workforce.

"We have already had several inquiries," said Graeme Thorpe, CEO of Balthan International (Fiji), Ltd., a producer and exporter of agricultural products in Fiji. Having just received the new regulations, Thorpe is assessing the alternative packaging options. "After that it is just a matter of putting in the systems," said Thorpe.

"The guidelines are in place," said Glenn Hindsdale of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "All we need is for someone to request a permit." Products for which Fiji is expected to seek transshipment permits include eggplant, papaya, mango, breadfruit and jackfruit.

"Foreign produce that has not gone through the rigorous process of approval for import into the United States was previously not allowed into the country, even to be directly transferred aboard another plane for delivery to its final destination," Kroeker said. "These new regulations show the willingness of the U.S. to be flexible in light of the increasingly global marketplace and its central location along emerging trade routes. The regulatory changes also highlight the usefulness of face-to-face dialogue, which the JCC actively facilitates. Over the long-term, this effort will promote entry of U.S. products into world markets, including Fiji and other Pacific Island nations."

In May, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials attended a quarantine workshop in Fiji, organized by the U.S. Embassy in Suva and the JCC, where the importance to the islands of transshipment approval was emphasized.

The JCC Secretariat at the East-West Center is responsible for ongoing research, organizing yearly conferences, and the creation and hosting of the Pacific Islands Business Network (PIBN) on the Internet. The network's webpage serves as an information link to provide purchasing agents, overseas investors, and individual consumers with details about products and services available in JCC member Pacific Islands nations. In addition to individual business information, country profiles provide information on doing business within each country. The PIBN webpage can be found at http://pidp.ewc.hawaii.edu/pibn and the JCC webpage can be found at http://pidp.ewc.hawaii.edu/jcc.

For additional information, contact John Williams: TEL: ( 808) 944-7204 Scott Kroeker: TEL: (808) 944-7721

To view the United States regulations involving the transshipment of produce [7 CFR Part 352 — Plant Quarantine Safeguard Regulations] click here. Note: You must have the Acrobat Reader installed. Go here to get it.

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