23 Jul 2007

Europe gets one last chance to lift kava ban before Pacific producers seek help from WTO

7:44 pm on 23 July 2007

Kava exporters are giving Europe one last chance to overturn bans on the product before they complain to the World Trade Organisation.

The United Kingdom, Germany and France are among countries that won't import kava products following claims they've caused liver damage.

But the chairman of the Pacific arm of the International Kava Executive Council, Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo, says a study by the World Health Organisation has proved kava is safe.

He says following a meeting with legal advisors, the Council is poised to take its complaint to the WTO.

"We've decided that it's now time to call the tune. And our advice is also that the bans, or the countries that have caused these, actually have contravened WTO rules regarding fair trade."

Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo says kava exporters will meet trade officials from Europe and Britain in September, in a final effort to resolve the stoush without legal action.

He says the bans have cost Pacific Countries more than one point four billion US dollars.