The network welcomes the 12 September media announcement from the Minister of Foreign Affairs that Cabinet had agreed to a programme of electoral assistance and the easing of some sanctions in Fiji to support progress toward elections next year.
The Fiji response was reported in the Fiji Sun on 13 September by Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations.
While welcoming the incremental change Ratu Kubuabola noted that it was regrettable they were of little impact at this late stage of Fiji’s progress toward a return to democracy.
On 22 October the Network was hosted at an evening function at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts in Wellington to listen to an address on the situation in Fiji by Gerald McGhie, a retired diplomat with an extensive knowledge of the Pacific.
During the question and answer session following Gerald’s address it became apparent that the main impact of the sanctions imposed in 2006 was on lost business in Fiji by New Zealand exporters.
It was also noted that the Government’s Business Growth Agenda aim to increase exports from 30% to 40% of GDP by 2025 was hardly helped by the continuation of sanctions on the Fiji Government. This was backed up by several attendees who reported lost sales to Fiji Government Departments, the Fiji military and police since sanctions were first imposed.
To achieve PEN’s Business Objectives to work toward doubling the level of merchandise exports to Pacific Island countries the Network seeks to identify barriers that inhibit Pacific trade and devise ways to remove them.
Continuation of the sanctions against Fiji is a barrier to increasing New Zealand’s exports to Fiji.
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