Friday, August 22, 2008

Fiji axing from Pacific Forum ‘unlikely’

Fiji axing from Pacific Forum ‘unlikely’
22/08/2008

A leading Fiji economist doubts the Pacific Island Forum will suspend Fiji’s membership because of the economic importance the country has in the region.University of the South Pacific Dean of Economics Dr Biman Prasad said the Forum is an important institution for the region and it would not help any member to be out of it.His comment come in the wake of the Forum’s decision yesterday that it may suspend Fiji if it does not commit to its promise to the Forum in Tonga last year to hold elections by next March.Dr Prasad adds that Fiji’s continued participation is important given that the region is going through a significant economic change and is in the process of discussing important trade, climate change and development issues.“The important trade negotiations such as EPA with the EU, the discussion and preparation for the negotiations for PACER are all important developments that need the full participation of countries like Fiji,” he said. “Fiji is already losing out from initiatives that Australia andNew Zealand are taking to help other island countries.“The guest worker scheme is already an example of an initiative where Fiji has lost out. It is important for Fiji and the Forum group as a whole that no one member is left out in the discussion on important matters affecting the region.”Dr Prasad said Fiji’s suspension would also mean adversities for smaller island nations such as Tuvalu and Kiribati who are dependent on it.A special Forum meeting to be held in Papua New Guinea at the end of the year will decide if Fiji is working towards holding elections by March 2009 under its Constitution and in accordance to the current electoral system. Fijilive

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