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SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 22, 2001 – Radio Australia)---Fiji says a new free trade agreement signed by Pacific leaders in Nauru last week is likely to cost the country over a half-million U.S. dollars -- at least initially.

But Foreign Affairs Deputy Secretary Leiloon Khan says there is optimism that Fiji eventually will gain a lot more when it starts to export its products throughout the region.

The free trade agreement between 14 Pacific Islands Forum member countries comes into force next year.

[See: DOCUMENT: Forum Free Trade Area: Frequently Asked Questions at] 

Khan, who is said to have been instrumental in negotiating Fiji's position on the trade agreement, said the accord eventually will mean more jobs for the country, and will further enhance sustainable development.

Australia and New Zealand are to become active participants in the Pacific Islands trade agreement after eight years.

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

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