FIJI MULLS RETALIATORY KAVA BAN ON VANUATU

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji 1 News, Nov. 29) – The Fiji government says it is considering restrictions on imports of Kava from Vanuatu as a retaliatory measure after Vanuatu banned the import of Fiji biscuits.

But Fiji’s $40 million (US$24.3 million) kava industry is worried the move could backfire, hurting kava consumers here.

In a veiled threat, Trade Minister Tomasi Vuetilovoni indicated that although restricting Kava imports from Vanuatu is an option being looking at, he hopes it wont come to that.

The country's largest importers of Vanuatu Kava, Gurdial Singh Brothers, have warned if this happens, not only will exporters from Vanuatu suffer, consumers here could end up paying higher prices.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, Vanuatu kava imports now makes up 25 percent of the local market with a value around $10million annually.

The Kava Council says that Vanuatu imports make up for a shortfall in Fiji’s kava production. Pulling the plug on this according to the Kava Council will hurt both sides, risking livelihoods.

Others feel this could be a blessing in disguise for local kava producers.

On the eve of a major international kava meet here tomorrow, the industry has warned government against retaliating and risking making this industry any murkier than it needs to be and avoid stirring up problems it can do without.

November 30, 2004

FijiTV: http://www.fijitv.cm.fj 

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