EUROPE HAILS FIJI'S BID TO HOST LOMÉ

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (February 5, 2000 – Fiji’s Daily Post)---Fiji’s hosting of the signing of the successor to Lomé IV is a great opportunity for the country to portray itself to the international community, said the European Union.

The Union has 15 member states and the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) group has 71 members, which means that high-level delegations from at least 85 countries will descend on Fiji at the end of May.

The Union said four conventions have been signed in the West African capital of Lomé in Togo and it is time that another part of the ACP group hosts the signing ceremony.

The Union said Fiji, at the hub of the Pacific, is a good choice and that Fiji is capable of hosting an event of this size.

It said the dignitaries and officials from 100 countries pose an enormous challenge.

"This is an enormous opportunity to show what Fiji -- and indeed the Pacific -- can do," the Union said.

The Union said this is why the Government decided to go for it and is ready to take on this responsibility, but there will be some assistance.

An ACP-EU joint mission is expected to arrive in Fiji shortly to discuss arrangements.

The Lomé Convention has existed for 25 years and the new convention has just been negotiated.

The union said it builds on the old and it simplifies it and improves it.

The aid program of the Union, most of it grants, not loans, finances projects like the Kalabo Tax Free Zone and the bridges at Ba, Sigatoka, Nausori and elsewhere.

The special trade arrangements allow access to the Union market on preferential terms.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fiji Live.

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