Fiji Trade Minister Reacts To Threat Of Trade War By PNG

Koya denies receiving formal communication; calls threat unMelanesian

By Matilda Simmons

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, August 16, 2016) – Fiji's Trade Minister Faiyaz Koya has hit out at Papua New Guinea's Trade Minister for taking retaliatory measures against Fiji, saying it is not in the spirit of the Melanesian Spearhead Agreement (MSG) and that protocols needed to be followed.

Mr Koya was responding to comments made by PNG's Trade Minister, Richard Maru, over the weekend that PNG would halt Fiji products from entering their market because of unfair trade deals.

Fiji has a trade surplus with PNG and last year exported $33.7 million worth of goods to PNG while importing more than $10m of PNG products.

In a statement last week, Mr Maru said their products which included Ox and palm, trukai rice and other Papua New Guinean products were still not allowed to enter Fiji's market despite their bequest to have an open trade with Fiji.

"It's been 10 years since PNG had been trying to have an open market trade with Fiji and the continuous refusal from the Fijian Government, is far too much to take and it is very unfair in trade when PNG is accepting Fijian products into the country," said Mr Maru.

He adds Fiji's disrespect for the trading relationship with PNG left them no option but to pursue retaliatory action "against our Melanesian brothers".

Mr Maru also said PNG had given Fiji 14 days to respond to a letter questioning Fiji's refusal to accept their products.

But Mr Koya said yesterday they had not received any formal communication from PNG.

"That's not a very MSG thing for them to do that. I think it needs to be realised that particular processes need to be followed. Obviously anything they send across we will respond shortly but if there are issues raised with us, it has to be treated properly instead of firing warning shots on top of our heads.

"First of all, we haven't received anything from PNG. Minister Richard Maru says they've opened up their market, so we should open our market, of course, the MSG Agreement is respected but they need to remember there are also biosecurity issues.

"They respect our laws , we respect their law. There are procedures needed to be followed but by using the threatening mode, that's not how it operates. There are processes needed to be followed, there are risk assesments that needed to take place specifically on the corned beef issue.

"The (Fiji) Government has asked the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji to take care of the risk assessment. From what I understand, the issue lies with the competent authority currently with PNG.

"So it's not like there's nothing being done — something is being done but I reiterate this is not being in the spirit of the MSG, this is not Pacific minded, you don't threaten Fiji. Fiji does not threaten anybody like that.

"All the agreements that we sign, we follow it. We are dealing with it it properly as in right now he (Richard Maru) hasn't sent any letter to me. But prior to this, both the prime ministers themselves have dealt with this at the ACP meeting so that's the current status at the moment. Once again there is the MSG — and we must follow the particular channel."

Fiji Times Online.
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Comments

Papua New Guinea should cancel any trade agreement which Fiji is part of. If FIJI wants to protect its local products, Papua New Guinea should do the same. Fiji has so far bullied smaller Pacific island countries into its terms and conditions which island countries don't benefit much. its time MSG consider implications carefully before going into any agreement with fiji.. i support our minister call to impose sanctions of fiji products..

They want to be bullies, they don't always do what they say and I think PNG should just shut them away

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