27 Aug 2008

Business council critical of PM's Fiji comments

2:01 pm on 27 August 2008

The Government must temper criticism of Fiji for not honouring election pledges or risk damaging trade worth $450 million a year, says the New Zealand Pacific Business Council.

Chairman GIlbert Ullrich says Fiji's lack of democracy is a problem, but describes Prime Minister Helen Clark's comparison of events in Fiji to the situation in Zimbabwe as very unwise.

Last week, Miss Clark likened Fiji's relationship with the Pacific Forum over an election date to that between Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth prior to its expulsion.

Mr Ullrich says New Zealand trades with countries with poor records on human rights or democracy, so it is selective to target Fiji.

He says the Pacific region is one of the two where New Zealand has a trade surplus and unwise comments may alienate Fiji.