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Vanuatu pleads with Australia to withdraw commercial ban on kava
4:26 pm GMT+12, 13/03/2012, Vanuatu
Vanuatu has pleaded with Australia to withdraw the commercial import ban on kava from the Pacific.

And, Prime Minister Sato Kilman didn’t mince his words when he questioned the need for the ban when “Australia has not provided any shred of evidence of kava safety.”

“As we negotiate for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union and PACER Agreement with Australia and New Zealand, it is our intention to place the importance of kava it deserves in our trade discussions.

“I hope our kava producing countries will support me in this endeavor, said PM Kilman while addressing the international kava symposium in Port Vila.

The kava producing countries in the Pacific are Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.

The meeting brings together the ‘Friends of Kava’ in the hope that they, together with kava producers in the Pacific will speak with one voice in attempting o remove the ban imposed on kava exports from the Pacific into Europe.

“In the absence of the EU and Australia lifting their ban on kava, the Friends of Kava would need to pursue a strategy of providing confidence to the export markets so that we can access and penetrate those particular markets, said the Vanuatu PM.

Vanuatu has been at the forefront of seeking a solution to end the kava export restrictions in 2002 by four countries in Europe – Germany, United Kingdom, France and Switzerland.

Meanwhile, the International Kava Executive Council says legal advice it has obtained shows European countries which have banned the ceremonial drink may be breaking World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
The ban was imposed in 2002 after kava extracts were believed to have caused liver damage and deaths of people in Germany, France and Switzerland.

A four-day International Kava symposium, which started yesterday in Vanuatu, is addressing the issue.

The chairperson of the council, Eddie Wilson, said under WTO rules the countries should have shown there was something wrong with the product.

“What has happened is we’ve so far presented scientific evidence that kava is safe and non-toxic. So far the counties that have imposed the restrictions have not come up with any scientific evidence whatsoever to back up its restrictions that have been imposed.”

Wilson said the lack of trade with the countries that won’t accept kava is costing exporters US$200 million a year.


SOURCE: PACNEWS/RNZI

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