PNG Grant To Solomons Strengthens Bilateral

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Trade, investment growing, visa restrictions for labor mobility

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, July 9, 2014) – Papua New Guinea’s K100 million [US$39,973,000] development grant to the Solomon Islands over a five-year period has further strengthened bilateral relations between the two Melanesian countries.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill handed over the first payment to his Solomon Islands counterpart Gordon Darcy Lilo in Honiara last May.

The second payment was done by Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato in Honiara in May this year.

"Trade and investment between PNG and Solomon Islands are increasing and expanding. Currently, more than 50 PNG companies are registered investors in Solomon Islands with a total value of over $2.2 billion (more than K1 billion)," Solomon Islands Minister for Culture and Tourism Samuel Manetoali said.

"These companies include big names such as Bank South Pacific, East New Britain Oil Palm, Bmobile and Lamana Hotel, among others. The number is expected to increase in the future.

"The two-way trade between the two countries is increasing fast, in addition under the MSG Skilled Women’s Scheme, with the objective to facilitate labour mobility among Melanesian countries, we look forward to seeing Solomon Islanders working in PNG and vice-versa."

Manetoali was speaking at the Solomon Islands 36th Independence celebrations at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Port Moresby on Monday night.

He said his Government intends to remove visa restrictions through a bilateral agreement as well as under the backing of the Melanesian Spearhead Group arrangement, which would facilitate and enhance the important area of people to people relationships.

"The negotiation between PNG and Solomon Islands on investment protection and commercial avenue is ongoing. The fourth and final round of negotiations will be held in PNG after which the agreement will be concluded and signed.

"Solomon Islands is also interested in entering into a treaty with PNG to avoid double taxation. In the field of human resources development, Solomon Islands has benefited from its relations and cooperation with PNG."

Manetoali expressed gratitude to the PNG Government for offering 800 scholarships to Solomon Islands students to study in PNG through the MOU on education and human resource development that was signed in Honiara in May.

He said many students from his country have been and are being educated in PNG’s higher learning institutions.

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