9 Aug 2007

Fiji can take Australia to WTO

10:29 am on 9 August 2007

A regional business executive says Fiji has a good chance of winning if it decides to take Australia to the World Trade Organisation for banning kava imports.

The Daily Post quotes Samoa's Grant Percival as saying Australia's ban on kava imports contravenes WTO rules.

Mr Percival says Fiji can find a good lawyer and resolve the issue in the WTO with a good chance of winning.

Samoa's commerce minister, Hans Joachim Keil, says the earlier European Union ban on kava had disastrous effects on the lives of many farmers in Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and Samoa.

Mr Keil points out that kava is a long term crop which takes six years to mature, and to ensure a constant supply farmers have to spread their planting over six years.

He says with Australia also now banning kava, this will further affect the livelihood of farmers.

Several years ago Australia teamed up with Brazil and Thailand to get the WTO to reduce European Union prices for sugar which has put Fiji's sugar industry in jeopardy.