14 Apr 2009

Care urged in NZ dealings with Fiji

9:43 am on 14 April 2009

The New Zealand Pacific Business Council says the Government must take extreme care over Fiji, because it's an export market which is being eyed by other countries.

Chair Gilbert Ullrich says Fiji's possible expulsion from the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum, over its latest moves, would have significant economic consequences for New Zealand.

Mr Ullrich says the Fiji market is worth $NZ500 million.

He says leaving the Forum would mean little to interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama, but could affect other Pacific nations.

Auckland University development studies director Yvonne Underhill- Sem, says the current government in Suva knows countries like China and Korea would help it.

Dr Underhill-Sem says throwing Fiji out of the Pacific Islands Forum would be short-sighted.

Fiji's President abrogated the constitution and sacked the judiciary last week, before reinstating the government of Commodore Bainimarama, which the Court of Appeal had ruled illegal.

Commodore Bainimarama seized power in a coup in December 2006 and was appointed interim prime minister a month later. It was the fourth coup since 1987.