New Zealand and Papua New Guinea Commit to Strengthening Bilateral Ties

By: PNG Business News May 20, 2024

New Zealand and Papua New Guinea have agreed to strengthen bilateral relations following a meeting between New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Winston Peters, and Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Hon. James Marape, in Port Moresby on Monday, May 13, 2024.

Prime Minister Marape recognised New Zealand as a steadfast development partner since 1975 and noted the positive state of current bilateral relations. He expressed optimism about expanding cooperation in business, trade, and investment, particularly in agriculture and energy sectors, emphasising the principles of a free-market economy.

Highlighting the economic benefits of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Programme, especially for New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay Region, Prime Minister Marape requested an increase in the quota for PNG workers. “I note that PNG seasonal workers are very efficient and call for the increase in PNG’s quota,” stated Prime Minister Marape.

He also extended his gratitude to New Zealand for its prompt support during the COVID-19 pandemic, remarking, “The New Zealand government was one of the first to respond to the COVID-19 crisis in PNG, and I express my appreciation and thanks.”

Prime Minister Marape commended New Zealand’s involvement in the Fred Hollows Foundation’s eye care initiatives at Port Moresby General Hospital and lauded New Zealand’s efforts in mediating the Bougainville peace process. He provided an update on the Bougainville Referendum, emphasising its non-binding nature and the forthcoming discussions in the National Parliament.

In his dialogue with Deputy Prime Minister Peters, Prime Minister Marape stressed the importance of tertiary and technical education for development goals in PNG and other Pacific Island Countries. He proposed exploring partnerships for open campuses of New Zealand’s tertiary institutions in PNG.

Acknowledging ongoing military cooperation, Prime Minister Marape thanked the New Zealand Government for supporting the establishment of the Kumul Leadership Centre at Murray Barracks in April 2022.

On key regional issues, Prime Minister Marape urged continued commitment from both nations as members of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) to the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, focusing on sustainable development and environmental conservation.

In addressing sea level rise and other environmental threats, Prime Minister Marape proposed that New Zealand consider cooperating with PNG on land reclamation projects for at-risk Pacific islands, offering an alternative to relocation.

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