PNG and New Zealand PMs Sign MoU

by PNG Business News - July 21, 2021

Photo Credit: RNZ - The prime ministers of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, Jacinda Ardern, and James Marape held a virtual meeting on 14 July, 2021, and signed a Statement of Partnership between the two countries

The prime ministers of Papua New Guinea and New Zealand have signed a memorandum of agreement to further their cooperation.

The leaders signed a Statement of Partnership in a virtual conference, reinforcing efforts to work through issues of trade and economics, as well as regional solidarity, amid the epidemic.

PNG's Prime Minister, James Marape, has suggested that New Zealand and Australia must do more to help Pacific economies cope with Covid-19.

"As I have stated to the Japanese Prime Minister at a recent meeting, and again at the recent Pacific Alliance Leaders Meeting, we would like to call on these bigger countries to step in and intervene, create 'economic bubble' or put in similar measures to assist these smaller economies.

"Many of us are really stuck. Fiji, for example, survives on tourism dollars. For us, Covid19 is not just a health issue; it is also an economic issue as well," Marape explained.

Ardern sounded receptive, saying the new Statement of Partnership underlined New Zealand's commitment to tight economic, cultural, and people-to-people ties with Papua New Guinea.

"It is an important milestone in our relationship. By formalising the values, priorities and principles which underpin our strengthening partnership, we've set a clear pathway forward for the future engagement between our countries."

"We look forward to continuing to work alongside Papua New Guinea on issues facing our Pacific region, including the ongoing management of COVID-19 and the regional economic recovery," Ardern said.

The statement said the countries have committed to "a safe and stable Pacific region where Pacific sovereignty is respected, and unhindered access to open waterways and marine resources are preserved, in line with the international rules-based system".

Bougainville link

The two presidents also spoke about Bougainville, PNG's autonomous province, which had a historic referendum in 2019 in which over 98 per cent of voters opted for independence from PNG.

Negotiations between Bougainville's autonomous administration and PNG's national government, as well as wide-ranging discussions, must take place before PNG's parliament can consider whether to accept the outcome.

Marape updated Ardern on the current status of the discussions, expressing his thanks for New Zealand's long-term assistance in ending the civil conflict on Bougainville and the ensuing peace process, which the referendum is a part of.

"Thank you also for your interventions in the matter of the Bougainville Referendum and under your leadership, we have been able to ramp up our warm relationship through the New Zealand and Papua New Guinea Statement of Partnership," Marape said.

He also requested New Zealand's assistance in providing 'eminent individuals' to mediate the Bougainville discussions once more.

Other topics discussed were PNG's public sector reforms based on the New Zealand model, as well as PNG's labour export to New Zealand.

Marape and Ardern also talked about Micronesia's decision to resign from the Pacific Islands Forum, with both leaders pledging to attempt to prevent this from happening.

The gathering served as a warm-up for the APEC Informal Leaders Retreat on July 16th, with Marape emphasizing the importance of the group's role in assisting smaller Pacific nations.

"The APEC family of nations can also assist (us) to maintain specific niche trade while being sensitive to COVID19, as many of our island nations are dependent on these niche businesses for the sustenance of our economies."

 

Reference: 

RNZ (15 July 2021). “'Economic bubble' idea floated as PNG and NZ sign partnership”.



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For the Goodman, et al., data go to Table 3.6 on p.61 in their report.\ Disclosure: This research was undertaken with the support of the ANU-UPNG Partnership, an initiative of the PNG-Australia Partnership, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The views are those of the authors only. This article appeared first on Devpolicy Blog (devpolicy.org), from the Development Policy Centre at The Australian National University. Stephen Howes is Director of the Development Policy Centre and Professor of Economics at the Crawford School of Public Policy, at The Australian National University. Kingtau Mambon is currently undertaking a Master of International and Development Economics at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, for which he was awarded a scholarship through the ANU-UPNG Partnership. Kelly Samof is a lecturer in economics at the School of Business and Public Policy, University of Papua New Guinea.

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