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Fiji losing $60.26 million in exports to US

Staff writer |
Fiji Trade Commissioner in Los Angeles, Jitendra Singh said Fiji exports to the US amounted to $31.6m ($F68m) which was a decline of 34.4 percent on annual basis.

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"While the decline in exports was broad-based across most categories, lower export of tuna was the main driver of the decline in the first quarter," Singh said, The Fiji Times reports.

He said during the same period, Fiji's imports from the US rose to $19.8m ($F43m), from $16.6m ($F36m) in the same period in 2013.

"Cumulative to March 2014, Fiji recorded a trade surplus with the US valued at $11.8m ($F25m); this was lower than the $31.6m ($F68m) surplus recorded in the same period of the previous year."

He also highlighted that there are a number of factors that impede the competitiveness of our products in the US markets.

"One of the crucial ones is the freight cost to the US which is quite high."

Fiji's fresh produce such as taro, cassava and yams and dry goods are competing strongly on price with products from Mexico, Costa Rica and other Asian countries.

Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Uraia Waibuta said geographical location and close proximity to the US, could land these nations their product at ports more cheaper than Fiji.

He said this was the reality for all Fiji products exported to the US and it was crucial that Fiji focused its effort in developing value-added products.

"However, our comparative advantage is quality; all our products are sold under Fiji brand which is liked by the American consumers," Mr Waibuta said.

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