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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, July 28) – Fiji will now focus on strengthening bilateral programs with countries like Indonesia, India, and China following the suspension of the World Trade Organization trade talks on the Doha Development Agenda this week.

Foreign Affairs chief executive Isikeli Mataitoga said this would begin with talks with the Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Li Zhaoxing, when he visits the country next week.

"One thing we must do is hype on the bilateral and regional because without that you will really be running on very thin ice. So yes, continue to be engaged once the suspension falls into the last quarter of this year because you are not going to see any movement now until very late in the year.

Mataitoga said it would be important to keep an eye on political indicators such as the upcoming US elections.

"That's important in terms of the moment that finishes, it could have an impact on the concessions the Americans could give.

"We need to continue to engage with our friends to bring the pressure that only they can give.

"I'm talking about the European Union friends particularly the French and the Germans. First there is the European Union and then individually because in their own way bilateral way they do have a very strong say in how this process eventuates."

Mataitoga said it was important that Fiji did not let up but change its strategy and start focusing on the bilateral programs.

Disagreement over agricultural subsidies and tariffs caused the Doha talks to be suspended in Geneva this week.

World Trade Organization head Pascal Lamy said the developing countries would be the worst hit if trade talks failed.

Leaders have now said they would put more emphasis on negotiating bilateral trade deals.

July 28, 2006


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