Home » Uncategorized » As expected Fiji given three weeks to prove “It does not destroy the trade union movement in Fiji, as has been alleged.”

As expected Fiji given three weeks to prove “It does not destroy the trade union movement in Fiji, as has been alleged.”

Fiji Govt given three weeks by United States’ GSP

October 03, 2012 03:17:29

Fiji has been given three weeks to back its case on why it should not be removed from the United States’ Generalized System of Preferences trade list.
This follows a hearing at the United States Trade Representative Office in Washington DC today.
The Fiji delegation led by the acting Solicitor-General Sharvada Sharma, Ambassador Winston Thompson, Solicitor-General’s Office lawyer, Salaseini Serulagilagi, and First Secretary Ray Baleikasavu attended the hearing to convince the US to keep Fiji on the GSP list.
Addressing the Generalized System of Preferences Sub-committee (GSPSC), Sharma said the government had implemented constitutional processes and has lifted the Public Emergency Regulations in January. Fiji is now operating under the amended Public Order Act which provides internationally accepted, modern laws to combat terrorism, racial and religious vilification, and other serious public order offences.
The GSPSC was also updated about worker-related reforms, including the implementation of substantial income tax reduction for workers, a National Employment Centre, a soon-to-be-established National Minimum Wage for Fijian workers, and a no-fault compensation scheme for injury at work.
Sharma told the committee the Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree 2011 is aimed at ensuring the viability of specific industries that are vital to the Fijian economy and GDP.  The decree is designed to protect jobs, while safeguarding the fundamental rights of workers. It does not destroy the trade union movement in Fiji, as has been alleged.
It was also stressed to the GSPSC that under this Decree, workers continue to have fundamental rights, including the right to organize; form unions; independently vote for representatives; bargain collectively; and develop processes to resolve employment disputes and grievances. It was also highlighted that the Decree is not unique as its key provisions are comparable to that of the US National Labor Relations Act and laws in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The GSPSC was also informed about workers in essential industries, having freely organised, formed bargaining units, and elected representatives. They have also reached collective agreements with employers and have devised their own dispute resolution processes.
The government’s concerns with respect to the impact of the loss of GSP to Fiji and the Fijian workers were also emphasised at the hearing. Currently, 39 Fijian companies export Fiji’s products into the US market under the GSP system.  In 2011, this generated $57 million in export revenues. If Fiji was twere lost, worker layoffs of about 15,000 workers would be the only option for affected companies and would adversely affect 75,000 Fijians (over eight percent of our population).
Government affirmed its commitment to a future of equality and opportunity for all Fijians. This includes ensuring that the rights of its working people are protected and extended.  The Fijian Government made this promise not only to the United Nations but also as the newly chosen Chair of the G-77 for 2013.
In addition, GSPSC was informed that, in order to address the lack of bilateral relations between the Fijian Government and the US Government, a bilateral informal dialogue process could be established with appropriate U.S. trade and labour officials to assist all parties in obtaining true facts about the rights of workers in Fiji.
The Hearing concluded with answers being provided to questions raised by the GSPSC to correct inaccurate information and to give further factual information.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Radio Australia, the United States trade union movement has said that suspending Fiji’s access to the US market is the last resort, at least not right away, and that they would prefer the interim government work with the authorities to improve workers rights.
Speaking to Radio Australia, American Federation of Labour- Congress of Industrial Organisations Trade Policy Specialist, Celeste Drake said the trade union movement in the United States do not necessarily want Fiji to be punished with loss of preferential access to the US market because of its record on workers rights.
She said onus is on the Fiji Govt saying that the massive job losses to Fijians will only occur “if the government has absolutely no intention of working with the US government to try and improve things for workers. So it’s really all in the Fijian government’s hands.”
The AFL-CIO, the umbrella organisation of American trade unions, is one of the parties making submissions to a government hearing in Washington about Fiji’s involvement in the generalised system of preferences program which provides preferential duty-free treatment for products from developing countries.
FijiLive

9 thoughts on “As expected Fiji given three weeks to prove “It does not destroy the trade union movement in Fiji, as has been alleged.”

  1. This will be an interesting one. Will the dictator show balls or will he climb down? Either way he loses: If he backs off and revokes Khaiyum’s great decrees he provides ample empirical evidence that pressure works. Other groups such as the churches, NGO’s and political parties will go for more and push for their own targets. If he stays his course he will create an economic disaster that will hurt a large number of families at a time when things are already very hard. But then again, he still has the guns and may thing he can push trough.

  2. UK and Ireland do not qualify for GSP access to the US. They are not developing countries. They are EU countries and have their own Trade engagement protocols with the US outside the US GSP system.

    This is the problem with a cut a paste Attorney General who photocopies legislations from other jurisdictions who prepared their statutes to suit their own specific domestic and international circumstances and replicates themhere in Fiji without understanding its broader implications.

  3. This 3 week deadline is blackmailing the fijian government, with the help of unionists and racists fijian corrupt cheats

    Stay strong Voreqe Bainimarama.

  4. the uncertainty of whether or not the GSP continues will already be affecting GSP exports – Stateside orders cannot happen without certainty that (a) the GSP is not under threat; and (b) the costing structures which transactions are proceeding on now will not be changed midstream without notice anytime from here on in given that we are in the middle of this GSP thing and an adverse decision can come down at any time – that is a serious consideration.

    as an importer Stateside you can’t run the risk and get an LC on a propsed transaction at minus the duty rate and then suddenly find when the goods land Stateside that its now plus duty because the GSP has been removed on that import.

    what that means is buyers Stateside will be hedging against that risk – and that can mean any number of things from reducing orders, to suspending orders, to directing orders to suppliers from countries other than Fiji.

    there is also the option of Fiji suppliers being required to provide back up insurance as part of the supply transaction to hedge for that possibility that the GSP will be removed so that if that happens any imposition of duty will be covered by the Fiji exporter, not the Stateside importer.

    this all adds on cost and uncertainty for Fiji GSP exports to the States.

    the more these guys fluster and bluster the worse the situation becomes for Fiji because the very fact that the GSP access is now in issue creates uncertainty for the future of Fiji GSP exports costing structures going Stateside.

    in many ways it would be better to have had the GSP simply removed because that then gives certainty and guys can work out options around that – but if this state of affairs carries on without any closure then the net result will be much more significant for the reputational goodwill (and the certainty of costings) of Fiji exports Stateside – the variables should be clear to the Government, they should understand the fundamentals involved and stop messing about because thats only going to make the situation worse for Fiji GSP exports to the US

  5. sbf, you watch thesse loosers crump in front of frank as fiji has invited dialouge with US. Mr sharva the solicitor genral has outlined to the us that these decrees are worker freindly and will surely impress them.Felix Bocilevu will surely become are big looser and will start to walk towards the door to the toilet hahha

  6. @fijiman

    3 exporters have already lost shipments this week to the US.

    GSP uncertainty has resulted in orders being held off worth $Fijian 350,000 this week by US clients

  7. @fijiman

    FIJI-USA TRADE

    Data from the US Department of Commerce shows that in 2011, exports from Fiji to the US decreased by 26.6 percent on an annual basis to US$131.5 million. On the other hand, imports of American products into Fiji were valued at US$42.6 million for the same period, a year-on-year decrease of 3.2 percent. In 2011, Fiji’s merchandise trade surplus with the US dropped to US$88.9 million, from US$135.1 million in the previous year.

    Latest data shows that in the first 6 months of 2012, Fiji’s exports into US amounted to US$81.4 million, an increase of 9.9 percent from the same period last year. Fiji’s imports from the US was much lower, at US$25.8 million in the first 6 months of 2012, compared with US$14.3 million in the same period in 2011. Cumulative to June 2012, Fiji recorded a trade surplus with the US valued at US$55.6 million; which was however, erosion from the trade surplus of US$59.8 million recorded in the same period of the previous year.

    The surge in American exports to Fiji in the first 6 months was caused by an increase in exports of medicinal & pharmaceutical products donated for relief in the month of April, following the March 2012 flooding in Fiji.

    Fiji’s major exports to the US include tuna loins, artesian mineral water, mahogany, sugar and molasses, fresh and whole fish, beverages, garments (knitted), body oils and lotions, root crops and vegetables, corals and shells (non-live). Aircraft and related parts, cell phones and pharmaceutical products constitute the major imports into Fiji from the USA.

  8. @fijiman

    Tuna exports drop

    Sharp Drop In US Imports of Pre-cooked Tuna Loins
    United States, August 14, 2012

    By Atuna.com

    The total import volume of frozen pre-cooked tuna loins of the U.S. market plummeted to an astounding low last year, with the category’s two major exporters, Thailand and Fiji, following the downward trend

    American seafood giant Bumble Bee closed two of its plants last year, and the effect can be seen in the decline of imports. In July 2011, its albacore loining plant in Fiji closed temporarily after a dispute with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, the small Pacific island nation’s market share dropped significantly from 2010 to 2011, with its export volume declining by 69% to a total of 4,600 MT.

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