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MAJURO, Marshall islands (January 3, 2000 – Radio Australia)---The Marshall Islands is considering abolishing all import taxes later this year.

Finance Minister Tony deBrum said the move is aimed at reducing the cost of enforcement and bringing the country in line with the proposed South Pacific free trade zone.

He said eliminating import taxes would benefit the government because to fully enforce current duties requires a major increase in customs personnel.

The Marshall Islands recently slashed import duties to boost its business sector, but more than half of all local businesses remain behind in their tax payments or have made no payments at all.

Mr. DeBrum said, however, that if businesses and the government cooperate on tax collection, there may be no need to increase local taxes to pay for the cuts in import duties.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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