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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 14) – New Zealand will not allow Fiji citizens into the country on short-term work schemes until the matter is thoroughly discussed.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff said the country would have to deal with the issue within the framework of the Pacific Agreement for Closer Economic Relations

He made the comment while addressing the Fiji-New Zealand Business Council in Auckland on Friday.

"There has been interest (by Fiji citizens) in some regions and sectors in New Zealand where local labour is in short supply," he said. "I understand that remittances from Fijians working overseas now make a significant contribution to the national economy. But for the moment, the New Zealand Government does not favour short-term work schemes such as we have had in place in the past with certain Pacific countries, among them Fiji."

Goff said a lot of research and policy thinking needed to be done before they could address labour mobility.

"We need to ensure that any proposal will genuinely satisfy the needs of both sending and receiving countries and that it takes forms that can be easily administered and monitored," said Mr Goff.

He said his government would shortly announce a new five-year strategy for New Zealand development assistance to Fiji, especially in the justice and human rights sector.

Mr Goff said discussions were underway with the Electoral Commission on provisions of help in the election to be held in September next year.

June 14, 2005

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