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Fiji: China-Australia free trade agreement puts Fiji in further bind

Pacific Islands Magazine, Hawaii

FIJI: China-Australia Free Trade Agreement Puts Fiji In Further Bind

9 February 2006

Fiji’s garment industry will face more problems if a free trade agreement (FTA) is signed between Australia and China, says Fiji Textile Clothing and Footwear President, Ramesh Solanki.

Employment and export revenue have registered a downward slide in textile sector for the past five years in a row, he said.

Textile industry provides employment to poor women who will find it difficult to get job elsewhere if the industry collapses, Mr Solanki said.

“It will create further social problems and deride the poverty alleviation programme," Solanki said.

Fiji’s garment exports declined from FJD$313 million (US$179 million) in 2000 to less than FJD$200 million (US$114 million) in 2005, recording a decrease of 35 per cent.

Fiji garment industry would suffer once China-Australia negotiations fructify, observed Fiji Employers Federation President, Sangeeta Niranjan.

Meanwhile, Philip Levy from Petersen Levy and Associates, a consultant to textile, clothing and footwear industries, will conduct a seminar on measures to be adopted to counter free trade agreement between Australia and China.

Industry can benefit from seminar in terms of getting a comprehensive picture of the FTA, said Solanki.

The seminar is scheduled to be held on 28 February- 01 March in Suva......PNS