16 Jul 2007

Vanuatu government contemplates trade action over Australian kava ban

7:49 pm on 16 July 2007

The Vanuatu government is threatening to take trade action against Australia over its ban of kava exports.

Our correspondent, Len Garae, says the Australian government won't allow more than two kilogrammes of kava into the country, saying it's a health hazard and is being abused by the aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.

But he says a recent World Health Organisation study into kava use shows that kava is not harmful to the users health and the Australian ban is damaging the plant's reputation.

Len Garae says the government has invited Canberra to discuss the situation, but they have not responded.

"The Vanuatu government said please respond to us, come and talk to us, what is your problem? If you have a problem with our traditional product which is kava then we sit together to find the most amicable solution out of it. However, if you do not want to sit with us then we will have to look at other ways to safeguard the image of our traditional product."

Len Garae