18 Jul 2002

Fiji criticises US trade policy, condemns nuclear fuel shipments through Pacific

5:27 pm on 18 July 2002

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has strongly criticised US trade policy at the summit of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in Nadi.

Mr Qarase referred to last year's decision by the United States to retaliate against the European Union for giving ACP members preferential access to their markets for bananas.

He says the issue reminded the developed nations that international affairs were not warm and cosy.

Mr Qarase said America had no hesitation in acting against ACP banana producers when US companies protested.

The action, he says, shows free trade is not a level playing field for the ACP, but more like a steep and slippery slope for poorer states.

The Fiji prime minister has also condemned the use of the Pacific to transport plutonium from Japan to Britain.

He has asked African and Caribbean delegates to join their Pacific counterparts in expressing outrage and opposition to those who are so willing to put the Pacific and its peoples at risk.

He says the Pacific people's close relationship to the ocean is the reason why they are so adamantly opposed to actions that expose them to threats of pollution, hazardous wastes and destructive effects of nuclear materials.

And Vanuatu's deputy prime minister, Serge Vohor, says it's time to put a full stop to these shipments.

The two British vessels have passed through the exclusive economic zone of Vanuatu after passing through the waters of the Federated States of Micronesia and Solomon Islands.