We consider N fermions in a two-dimensional harmonic oscillator potential interacting with a very short-range repulsive pair-wise potential. The ground-state energy of this system is obtained by performing a Thomas-Fermi as well as a self-consistent Hartree-Fock calculation. The two results are shown to agree even for a small number of particles. We next use the finite temperature Thomas-Fermi method to demonstrate that in the local density approximation, these interacting fermions are equivalent to a system of noninteracting particles obeying the Haldane-Wu fractional exclusion statistics. It is also shown that mapping onto to a system of N noninteracting quasi-particles enables us to predict the energies of the excited states of the N-body system.