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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (July 11, 2000 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---After a record performance last year, Papua New Guinea's exporters are looking forward to another record year with export earnings likely to top the K6 billion mark for the first time.

The Bank of Papua New Guinea last week reported that after topping K5 billion last year, the country's exports had begun on a very positive note in the first quarter of this year when they hit a record K1.5 billion.

Industry sources told The National that as long as oil prices remained at around current levels in the coming year, PNG's merchandise exports should top K6 billion and help underwrite growing confidence in the prospect of renewed economic growth.

While crude oil exports had jumped by 145 percent in the March quarter following a big surge in international oil prices – export volumes nevertheless plunged by 21.7 percent to 5.9 million barrels - overall export earnings from the agricultural sector suffered a decline.

While oil exports have been declining for some years, gold production during the March quarter surged ahead by 47.2 percent to 18.7 tons, the highest level for any quarter to date.

This was due to higher production at the country's four big mines - Ok Tedi, Porgera, Misima and Tolukuma.

Even though international gold prices have remained at low levels in U.S. dollar terms, the average price received by PNG producers was 38.6 percent higher than the same period last year.

BPNG said this was due to the realization of higher hedging prices by some of the mining companies as well as the depreciation of the kina against the

U.S. dollar.

Copper export volumes rose 1.3 percent to 31,100 tons in the March

quarter while the average price rose by 59.3 percent.

BPNG said the higher prices for copper were also due to depreciation of the kina and higher international prices for the metal in the wake of increased demand from Asia, where several countries were recovering from the economic crisis.

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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