6 Sep 2006

Fiji PM to visit Australia to discuss issues with John Howard

9:41 am on 6 September 2006

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, leaves for Australia this morning with the country's wish list to present his Australian counterpart, John Howard.

Mr Qarase has told Radio Legend he will seek Australia's assistance in some key areas after he received an invitation for the visit from Mr Howard.

He says he hopes Australia agrees to give more concessions to Fiji's garment industry when he has a one-on-one meeting with Mr Howard in Canberra tomorrow.

The garment industry has suffered more than 10,000 job losses in the last six years and exports have been halved.

Mr Qarase says he will also raise the issue of a short term, seasonal work scheme in Australia as recommended by the World Bank's labour mobility scheme.

As well, he says it is becoming extremely difficult for Fiji citizens to obtain visas for short term visits to Australia and he will be discussing the issue.

Mr Qarase will be accompanied by the minister for foreign affairs and external trade, Kaliopate Tavola, and the minister for labour, Krishna Datt.

Australia's is Fiji's largest trading partner, its main source of foreign investment and also its biggest tourism market.