Vanuatu kava exporter ‘disappointed’ by likely delay to Australian commercial import trial

The head of Vanuatu’s Kava Industry Association says Pacific island countries are being “deceived”, as Australia looks set to delay a promised trial to import commercial amounts of kava.

The Australian Government – as part of its ‘Pacific Step-up’ – had announced a pilot program last year that would allow kava producers from across the region to sell their product in Australia.

But Pacific Beat has received confirmation from Australia’s Department of Health that the pilot program is “likely” to be postponed to 2021, because of COVID-19.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) spokesperson said the Australian Government response to COVID-19 is a priority for the Department of Health.

“However, development work on the kava commercial importation pilot is continuing, taking into consideration that full implementation and further targeted consultation is unlikely to occur until travel restrictions are fully lifted,” they said.

The spokesperson added that this meant that the pilot is unlikely to commence until 2021.

Michael Louze, an exporter and chair of the Vanuatu Kava Industry Association says its disappointing and Pacific leaders should “react strongly” to the delay.

Interview by Kelvin Anthony

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