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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (April 4, 2000 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Trade between Papua New Guinea and Fiji has been growing strongly following the signing of a bilateral trade agreement in August 1996, with Fiji benefiting from a rapidly growing trade surplus.

Trade and Industry Minister Michael Nali who will lead a PNG trade and investment mission to Fiji from today until April 7, said PNG's exports to Fiji had grown from K 379,000 in 1996 to K 882,000 in 1997. Preliminary figures show they had reached K 1.2 million in 1998.

(NOTE: K 2.58732 = US$ 1.00 on April 3, 2000)

However, Fiji's export performance to PNG has been even more spectacular. In 1996, Fiji's exports here were worth K 1.6 million. They shot up to K 5.5 million the following year.

As a result PNG's trade deficit with Fiji rose from K 1.3 million in 1996 to K 4.6 million in 1997.

Key PNG exports to Fiji include coffee, tea, cardamom and artifacts. Key imports include sugar confectionery, pasta, prepared baking powder, dental hygiene and medicines, baby oil, garments, footwear, furniture and refractory bricks.

The trade and investment mission led by Mr. Nali will be comprised of eight private sector representatives and six government officials from the Department of Trade and Industry, Investment Promotion Authority and Small Business Development Corporation.

Mr. Nali said private sector representatives include PNG Arts, Chin H. Meen & Sons Pty Ltd, W.H. Industries Pty Ltd, Front Oils Ltd, Markham Culverts, Melanesian Capital Adission Ltd and Beyond Art.

The mission will include a two-day mini-trade display to promote PNG made products, individual business meetings with potential business partners and visits to the Fiji Tax Free Zone and selected manufacturing industries.

PNG exhibits that will go on display range from plastic products, artifacts and handicrafts, textile printing, coconut oil products to compact discs, cassettes and videos.

Mr. Nali said the PNG-Fiji bilateral trade agreement provided duty free access into each other's markets for a range of agreed products.

"This mission is most timely as it comes when our economic recovery program is slowly moving into gear," he said.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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