FIJI, PNG SPAR OVER CANNED BEEF BAN

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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Oct. 11) – Exporters of canned meat to Papua New Guinea will meet Foreign Affairs officials tomorrow to discuss threats by PNG to ban their products.

Foods (Pacific) Limited of Suva, Fiji exports over FJ$1 million dollars (US$595,500) worth of canned beef, mutton and chicken luncheon to PNG annually.

Company sales executive Manish Sharma confirmed the meeting with Foreign Affairs tomorrow.

Sharma said the company wanted to know why PNG was threatening to ban its canned products.

He said PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare confirmed during his recent visit to Fiji that the issue had been cleared.

However, last weekend PNG’s Secretary For Trade And Industry Alois Tabereng said Fiji was warned of retaliatory trade bans if Suva did not lift a ban on its corned beef.

Tabereng said a letter was sent to his Fiji counterpart and if no reply were received in 21 days, retaliatory measures would be considered.

He said that at the August meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Fiji was given until September to lift the ban on PNG corned beef

He said Fiji had been repeatedly reminded of the lapses in deadline, but nothing was done by officials in Suva.

Fiji imposed a ban on the Ox and Palm brand of corned beef from PNG because it did not meet sanitary and quarantine restrictions.

Tabereng’s statement comes after PNG’s Ox and Palm brands of corned beef were barred from the Fiji market, although an agreement was reached to allow them access to the Fiji market at the August Melanesian Spearhead Group Meeting.

It is understood the PNG manufacturer of the corned beef, Hugo Canning Ltd, had not exported its products, although Fiji was given until September 2005 to lift the ban on the two brands.

Sharma said Foods Pacific would also raise the issue of a 30 per cent duty imposed by PNG on chicken luncheon over a month ago. He said under the Melanesian Spearhead Group Agreement, chicken luncheon is duty free.

[PIR editor’s note: The Melanesian Spearhead Group, created in 1988, is comprised of Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, as a regional forum for leaders from the four countries to discuss issues relating to governance, trade, and foreign relations.]

October 12, 2005

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

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