6 Sep 2006

Fiji garment industry again calls on Australia and New Zealand to alter trade agreement

3:14 pm on 6 September 2006

The Fiji garment industry is again calling on Australia and New Zealand to relax the rules of origin under the SPARTECA trade agreement.

The president of the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Council, Ramesh Solanki, says the industry is hopeful that discussions by the Fiji prime minister and two senior ministers in Australia, will result

in changes.

He says the agreement is too restrictive because it requires 50 percent of the material which are made into clothes, to be sourced in Fiji.

Mr Solanki says it would provide a real boost to the industry if the rules of origin were relaxed.

"We're requesting 25 percent local content but it will be better if, like under WTO, emphasising substantial transformation. As long as the garment is totally manufactured in Fiji, or a Forum Island country, it should qualify under SPARTECA, for export to Australia and New Zealand."

Mr Solanki says if this occurs, another 6,000 jobs could be created within a year.