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October 01, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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Eight percent of Fiji's population will be affected if the country is no longer an eligible country under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences, says Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

He revealed this in a statement as a high level Fijian delegation left for Washington D.C to participate in the U.S government's public hearing concerning whether Fiji provides internationally recognised workers rights to its citizens.

Bainimarama said his government's commitment to a future of equality and opportunity for all Fijians includes ensuring the rights of its working people are protected and extended.

"The government considers it paramount to safeguard the livelihoods and jobs of Fijian people," he said.

“We are very concerned about the potential impact of losing duty-free entry for so many of Fiji’s products into the U.S market if Fiji is no longer an eligible country under the U.S Generalized System of Preferences."

"15,000 jobs could be lost among thirty-nine companies that export products using this preference and there could be indirect losses also."

"Fiji is a family-based society. The loss of these jobs would affect 75,000 people  - which is more than eight percent of our population - because of the multi-generations of family that live together and depend on the family’s breadwinner," he concluded.

By Indrani Krishna

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