Papua New Guinea - China to Elevate Trade Partnership
Papua New GuineaPrime Minister James Marape has requested for China to enter into a Free Trading Arrangement (FTA) with Pacific Island countries in particular PNG to boost economic corridor zones in the region.
He made these request during a meeting with the Chinese Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, H.E. Xue Bing, in Port Moresby recently, saying he was mindful that the similar arrangement with Australia and New Zealand under the PACER Plus deal was in default for PNG, and PNG was reviewing this with the Australians in order to ensure it draws tangible outcomes.
Agendas discussed included, PM Marape's bid for China to assist PNG re-finance its K27b debt which would be led by BPNG and China People's Bank; the upcoming 3rd China-Pacific Islands countries Economic Cooperation Forum to be held in Samoa in October; and the forthcoming PIF Post Dialogue Forum meetings to be held in Tuvalu, this month.
“I also suggested for Chinese investment in the Agriculture and Fisheries sector, and in particularly establishing down streaming processing plants for products in forestry, fisheries, mining and petroleum, and general food production and supply in PNG,” PM Marape said.
Ambassador Bing then invited PM Marape to attend the 3rd China-Pacific Islands countries Economic Cooperation Forum to be held in Samoa in October 2019, which would be graced by a Leaders of Pacific Island Countries. The Prime Minister agreed in principle to attend and will advise of his availability.
Amb. Bing also raised concerns with PIF Leaders Forum being hosted by Tuvalu who has diplomatic relations with Taiwan and urged PNG to support China to allow it to speak at the PIF Post Forum Dialogue Partners meeting where China is anticipating on delivering a statement on strengthening its relations in the region through economic development assistance and climate change. This is based on its similar experiences in Nauru in which the Chinese delegation was refused to talk.
PM Marape maintained that all nations were sovereign states and that each member was entitled to decide on who its external partners were thus for PNG, it’s “One China Policy” has always been the corner stone of the bilateral relations with China. Given this backdrop and the already enjoyed favorable relations with China, PNG will support China on regional issues of mutual importance.
Amb. Bing then briefed Prime Minister Marape on China’s investments in PNG and admitted that it was much lesser compared to other development partners in PNG. He stressed that China’s two major projects were the Ramu Nickel Project which was being in the process of being extended and the Pogera Gold Mine Project which Chinese companies are involved.
They also exchanged views on global food security and discussed views on entering into an Agricultural Cooperation Arrangement to supply PNG organic food and vegetables to the Chinese Market, and enter into a Fisheries Agreement for Chinese Investors to build Fisheries processing plants in PNG.
Amb. Bing further extending an invitation for PM Marape to visit China, where he agreed and suggested that this proposed official visit to China, will be consolidated with key issues such as signing of MoUs and other technical agreements.
“These will include developments in the field of air services, tourism, mining and petroleum, electricity, construction of roads, ports, airstrips, technical and vocational education schools, and the Chinese language curriculum to be introduced in schools, and more importantly encouraging business investments from China, ”PM Marape said.
PM then requested the Ambassador to inform Beijing on a bid to assist GoPNG re-finance its existing country’s K27b debt. He stated that a formal letter would be forwarded to the Ambassador to convey to Beijing on this request. He suggested that both the Bank of PNG and the PRC People’s Bank will take the lead with the Department of Treasury in ensuring that consultations are underway.
With regard to strengthening and facilitating business and investment, PM Marape emphasized that all business investors and other officials traveling to PNG would be facilitated at the PNG Embassy in Beijing so that meetings with senior government officials and ministers including his office are properly coordinated.