Government of the Republic of Fiji
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service
23rd December, 2011, Suva: Today the Australian High Commission in Suva informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation that the Australian Government is extending the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Co-operation Agreement (Textile, Clothing and Footwear Provisions Scheme (the SPARTECA (TCF Provisions) Scheme)1 , under which certain textiles, clothing and footwear goods that are manufactured in Forum Island Countries (FICs) including Fiji but do not meet all the provisions of SPARTECA to enter Australia and New Zealand duty free in certain circumstances. The Australian Government has approved an extension of the SPARTECA (TCF Provisions) Scheme to 31 December 20142.
Welcoming the development the Minister for Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation Ratu Inoke Kubuabola expressed Fiji’s appreciation for the market access provided under the scheme, which was to a large extent sustaining Fiji’s garment industry.
Ratu Inoke said the industry was of vital importance in as far as alleviating poverty and engendering social equality in Fiji was concerned.Garment and footwear manufacture is a major contributor to the economy of Fiji generating tens of millions of dollars in export revenues each year:
“90 per cent of employees in the industry were women and in most cases the sole bread-winner.The industry employs 2500 workers but indirectly impacts nearly 16000 people.
Through the scheme, there is potential to turn the garment industry around and increase its contribution towards Fiji’s GDP and social development.”
Ratu Inoke however cautioned that,
“Fiji industry however cannot only rely on Australian or other countries’ tariffs or policies for its survival – we must increase our international competitiveness. In this regard I acknowledge the level of commitment by Fiji’s industry to improve efficiency, production and innovation. Nonetheless, Fiji’s TCF sector needs to implement further reforms in order to diversify and improve its competitiveness and be sustainable in the long term.”
Earlier in the year Ministry officials had met with a team from Australia that was on a fact finding mission to gather further information in relation to the review of the SPARTECA TCF-scheme between Fiji and Australia which has now been renewed.
1SPARTECA is a nonreciprocal trade agreement in which Australia and New Zealand offer duty-free and unrestricted access for specified products originating from the developing island member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum. Signed in 1981 and subject to Rules of Origin regulations, the agreement was designed to address the unequal trade relationships between the two groups. The textiles, clothing and footwear (TCF) industry has been a major beneficiary of SPARTECA through the preferential access to Australian and New Zealand markets.2http://www.customs.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/ACNreSchemeExtension.pdf
Ministry of Foreign Affairs P. O. Box 2220 Government Buildings Suva, Fiji