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PRESS STATEMENT Suva, Fiji Islands

October 24, 2001

Negotiations opened today on a regional sugar agreement between Fiji and five of its Pacific Island neighbors.

The sugar agreement with Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Tuvalu was suspended in 1998 due to supply and production difficulties experienced by the Fiji sugar industry.

"The Long Term Regional Sugar Agreement is one of the region's most effective, and long standing examples of true intra-regional trade cooperation," said Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Mr. Iosefa Maiava, while opening the meeting.

"Despite the suspension of the Agreement for the last three years, the sugar importing FICs have pledged full support to review and revive this Agreement. As many of you will be aware, this is the twenty-fifth year since the Agreement first entered into force.

"Even though it is only a relatively small percentage of its total sugar exports, Fiji is to benefit from the confirmed sales of approximately 15,000 tons of sugar per year under the Agreement.

"On the other hand, the Pacific Islands Forum countries -- Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Tuvalu -- will have assured supply at a reasonable price.

"This is a good example of trade cooperation between Forum Island Countries -- an initiative that the region is trying to promote through the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA)," Mr Maiava said.

The one-day meeting at the Forum Secretariat headquarters in Suva will consider the revival of the Regional Sugar Agreement; determine supply and distribution arrangements, quota allocations and sugar pricing.

For additional information, contact: Ulafala Aiavao at 

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