Fiji-PNG Trade Numbers Up 67 Percent Over 5 Years

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Trade ministry says this is only a fraction of potential for Fiji

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Dec. 2, 2013) – Fiji’s trade with Papua New Guinea has increased by 67 per cent over the last five years. According to January 2013 data compiled by Investment Fiji, in 2012, Fiji’s projected trade surplus has been set at FJ$69.2 million [US$36.8 million], almost double 2011 figures of FJ$32.3 million [US$17.2 million].

This is partly due to the removal of Fiji products listed on PNG's negative list in 2012 as per the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement and increase in investor confidence in Fiji brought about by better economic outlook.

In 2011, Fiji exported flour (worth FJ$4.3 million, [US$2.3 million]), lead acid of kind used for starting piston engines (FJ$1.0 million [US$532,198]), soap and organic products (FJ$0.9 [US$478,978]), bread, pastry, cakes, biscuits and other bakers wares (FJ$0.8m) and telephone sets, including telephones for cellular networks (FJ$0.3 million [US$159,659]) to PNG.

Fiji imported parts and accessories (FJ$1.9 million [US$1 million]), telephone sets, including telephones for cellular networks (FJ$1.1 million [US$584,418]), plastics (FJ$1.0 million) and air coolers (at FJ$0.5 million [US$266,099]).

The Trade Ministry believes this is only a fraction of the potential that Fiji can garner from the relationship saying that the soon-to-be appointed trade commissioner will be able to expand Fiji’s trade with PNG.

"It’s not just the question of how much trade there is but how much trade can there be," Attorney General and Minister of Trade Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said.

"PNG is nearly double the population size of NZ, and there is already a growing demand for Fijian exports. We are competing with other countries like Australia and various other countries for the PNG market.

"Fiji is well positioned in this area given we have lots of relationship with PNG in terms of business connection which we can improve on. There is potential to grow it."

He said in the recent Fijian trade and investment mission to Papua New Guinea that was held in August, some of the local exporters returned with orders which they had not been able to tap into previously.

This he says is indicatative of further opportunities for trade and investment that Fiji can tap into in PNG.

President of Fiji PNG Business Council and BSP country manager Fiji Kevin McCarthy expressed the same sentiments.

"It is more about using this position to increase the trade. With the relaxation of negative items on the MSG Trade agreement, there is great opportunity to trade with PNG now that we get duty free access," he said.

"This position will be able to facilitate appointments for Fiji exporters with appropriate suppliers and also look to match Fiji exporters with PNG companies."

Trade Ministry permanent secretary Shaheen Ali says the ministry is currently working on appointing a suitable person as PNG trade commissioner.

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