SIGNING OF SUVA CONVENTION TO BE REVIEWED

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 22, 2000 - Fiji Times/PINA Nius Online)---The signing of the Suva Convention, the successor agreement to the Lomé Convention, will be reviewed.

The European Union (EU) said developments will be monitored closely regarding the scheduled signing.

"These arrangements will also be reviewed in the light of developments in Fiji, it being understood that democracy to us is an essential component of the agreement," EU said.

The Lomé Convention has allowed Fiji, like many African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, preferential trade deals. Fiji has benefited by selling sugar at an inflated price rate.

Both the business community and the Government had been looking forward to the ACP/EU meetings and the agreement signing next month.

Fiji would have played host to about 600 delegates, who would have included heads of state and prime ministers.

In a joint press conference last Sunday by Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Tupeni Baba and business community representatives, both were confident of the many benefits the country would have received.

But the European Union said yesterday it would review arrangements already set down for the June 8th signing at the Civic Centre.

The coup, led by George Speight, has effectively stopped the refurbishment work done at Suva's Civic Centre, plans of infrastructure improvements and bookings of all Nadi hotels, where reservations for some 600 delegates had been made.

The improvements would have been partly funded by the EU.

"The EU condemns the use of armed force against a democratically-elected leader and the reported violence which has taken place in Suva and elsewhere in Fiji," an EU statement said.

"The EU considers it totally unacceptable the taking of hostages including Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and the Government."

Fiji Chamber of Commerce President Natwarlal Vagh said he did not want to comment specifically on the benefits the business community could have reaped from the signing of the scheduled Suva Convention.

Mr. Vagh did say, however, the coup would be detrimental to the economy but its extent would only be established after shop owners determined their loss.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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