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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Oct. 19) – Vanuatu Trade Minister James Bule was expected to arrive in the country last night to meet with his Fiji counterpart Kaliopate Tavola today.

Mr. Tavola revealed this yesterday in an interview and said the meeting would be on the biscuit ban.

"We have heard from the media that the ban has been lifted but we have not received anything to officially inform us. I expect Mr. Bule to officially inform me today. If the news is good, then Fiji will work on lifting its ban on Vanuatu kava," Mr. Tavola said.

This would be the first time the ministers have met.

During the Melanesian Spearhead Group talks in Papua New Guinea, the deal that was struck was for Vanuatu to lift its biscuit ban and that Fiji would do the same on the kava ban, Mr. Tavola said.

He said if the biscuit ban was lifted, then he would present a paper to Cabinet asking it to reverse its decision on Vanuatu kava.

Vanuatu imposed a ban on imported biscuit crackers in April directly affecting Flour Mills of Fiji, which exported close to FJ$2 million (US$1.17 million) worth of biscuits to Vanuatu.

The decision was made to protect its local producer.

However, after pressure from Fiji, the ban was lifted but a quota was imposed restricting Vanuatu importers to only 20 cartons of biscuits each.

Not long after, Fiji banned Vanuatu kava.

October 20, 2005

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