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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, April 10) - Fiji has urged Canada’s Federal Minister for International Trade to lift the kava ban in order to increase exports to Canada.

The business development manager of the Fiji Business Centre based at the Fiji High Commission in Vancouver, Ashwant Dwivedi said Minister David Emerson has asked the high commission to officially write to his office.

According to a statement from the Fiji Embassy in Washington, Emerson said this will allow him to raise the matter with other relevant ministries.

Canada imposed a ban on kava imports in August 2002 because of insufficient evidence to support its safe use.

Dwivedi said Emerson was also told that the Fiji Business Centre is seeking ways for Fiji companies to supply the 2010 Olympics Games.

"Fiji can supply such things as Fiji Water, fresh fruits and vegetables for the Olympic Games," Dwivedi said.

Emerson is the minister responsible for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, which will be held in Vancouver.

Fiji’s High Commissioner to Canada Jesoni Vitusagavulu said he is happy with the work of the Fiji Business Centre in promoting exports to Canada.

Fiji reported a 20 percent in exports to Canada in 2006 with increases seen in the export of Fiji water and canned tuna.

Vegetables and fresh fish also showed encouraging increases.

Vitusagavulu said the increase in exports last year can be expected to rise further in 2007 if the result in January is a guide.

"Total imports from Fiji according to figures released by Statistics Canada increased to CA$1.8 million [US$1.5 million] from CA$200,499 [US$174,153] in January 2006 a nine-fold increase," Vitusagavulu said.

The high commissioner is confident of increases in the exports of vegetables, fresh fish as well as root crops like cassava and taro and fruits.

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