19 Oct 2002

Fiji PM holds discussions on preference sugar deal with Australian PM

9:14 am on 19 October 2002

Fiji's Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, says he has been assured by Australia that discussions it plans with the European Union over sugar subsidies will not hurt Fiji's preferential access to Europe.

Australia says that the EU subsidies, which pay some sugar producer countries around three times the market rate, are hurting developing and developed nations.

Mr Qarase met with the Australia Prime Minister in Canberra this week amid worries that Australia's challenge to the sugar subsidies would further undermine an industry which is near collapse.

But Mr Qarase says John Howard assured him that the issue will not in any way affect Fiji's preferential access.