FIJI CUSTOMS AGENTS BLOCK SHIPMENTS OF BOTTLED WATER

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji 1 News, Jan. 10) - Major exporter - Natural Waters of Viti Limited has been blocked from sending shipments of Fiji Water to overseas markets.

The Yaqara based company says it will take legal action against the Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority for blocking the exports.

The company claims the delays have cost the company about four million Fiji dollars [US$2.5 million] in [lost] export revenue.

Fiji Water Shipment destined for the overseas market remains at the Lautoka Wharf, since December last year.

It's understood 500 cartons of Fiji Water for consumers in the United States and other major global markets are still not being allowed to be transported overseas, due to differences in calculations between the Natural Waters of Fiji Limited and the Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority.

In a statement issued this afternoon, Natural waters says it has not been given any formal notification or explanation from FIRCA or other government authorities on the reason why their shipping agents have not been able to operate as they normally would.The statement goes on to say, as a Fijian company representing over 15 percent of Fiji exports, getting our global market is critically important, and each week their product is blocked from leaving the country, it costs the company 3 to 4 million Fijian dollars in lost of exports for Fiji.

The company further adds that FIRCA is acting in poor advice and based on speculation of the transfer price of traded goods from Fiji. It says it remains confident on the advice from Baker Mackenzie, and it's fair and accurate and consistent with global practices of fair trade.

The company is threatening legal action if FIRCA fails to resolve the issue.

FIRCA CEO Jitoko Tikolevu confirmed this afternoon that Fiji Water shipment remains at the Lautoka Wharf because they're not comfortable with the prices in the company invoices, what they're trying to clarify at this stage is the basis of costing.

Tikolevu adds discussions are still underway and will not comment further.

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