Fiji Produce Exporters Hit By High Biosecurity Fees

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

100% check on fresh exports called ‘overkill’

By Felix Chaudhary

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 23, 2015) – Fruit and vegetable exporters will not be exporting any fresh produce beginning today because of what they claim are high fees and charges imposed by the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF).

At stake is $40million [US$18.6 million] in produce export earnings and the livelihoods of fruit and vegetable growers in the Western Division if the issue is not resolved with urgency.

The Fiji Fresh Produce Exporters Association, an organisation representing 19 exporters and 250 farmers, said issues and concerns about non-consultation prior to increasing fees and charges raised with the head of the BAF had not been addressed so far.

Association president Rizwan Khan said the 100 per cent check imposed by BAF on commodities had cost exporters several hundred thousand dollars in unnecessary fees.

"New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries requires only 600 unit level inspection," Mr Khan said.

"The self-regulated 100 per cent check — without proper consultation and collaboration with exporters — is an overkill.

"This has squeezed us out of money."

Mr Khan added one-off $600 [US$279] fees levied on exporters plus $399 [US$186] annual renewal fees were also done without consulting industry stakeholders.

"The bill was passed and we did not know about it — we are forced to pay this.

"Why weren't we consulted in the first instance."

The association head said the fee hike was a barrier to trade and an impediment to export promotion.

When contacted yesterday, BAF executive chairman Xavier Khan said he would issue a press statement regarding the issue.

However, no statement was received when this edition went to press last night.

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