PNG Trade Minister Issues Fiji An Ultimatum To Lift Restrictions Or Face Trade War

'Retaliatory measures will not be in the spirit of Melanesian solidarity, they will be necessary if Fiji does not show good will'

By Rosalyn Albaniel

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, August 29, 2016) – Fiji has until the end of August to lift the restrictions on Papua New Guinea’s products, including its famous Ox and Palm, or risk an all out trade war.

The ultimatum was issued by Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru in a letter dated August 22 in response to Fiji Trade Minister Faiyaz Siddiq Koya’s correspondence of August 15.

"Fiji has now been put on notice and that if it fails to take immediate actions to resolve its unfair and illegal trade practices, then the PNG Government will have no choice but to take the following actions to seek redress:

  • Invoke the dispute settlement process of the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute settlement process;
  • Decline all other requests from Fiji exporters or PNG importers seeking to import any new food based products from Fiji including poultry;
  • Refuse to be a party to the new Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement - Three, if Fiji is party to it;
  • Remove duty free market access for all Fijian manufactured goods exported to PNG, under the MSG Trade Agreement.

"While these retaliatory measures will not be in the spirit of Melanesian solidarity, they will be necessary if Fiji does not show good will at this critical stage of our trade and investment partnership within the time frame we have provided," the minister said.

Mr Maru said he has written to PNG Ambassador to the WTO, Joshua Kalinoe for advise on this issue.

Further, to request that he (Mr Kalinoe) put the Fijian Ambassador to the WTO on notice, that PNG will not hesitate to invoke the WTO Dispute Settlement process if Fiji does not respond favourably to PNG’s request.

Mr Maru said as a way forward and before the end of the month, PNG would like Fiji to undertake the following:

  • Immediately provide a clear media release to announce that PNG goods, including Ox and Palm, are safe for Fiji market for commercial purposes and for personal consumption;
  • Lift all unnecessary restrictions by the Fijian Government on any credible PNG made goods; and
  • Undertake voluntary Import Risk Assessment on all other products in question including PNG’s Trukai Rice and PNG made biscuits.

This must be done in collaboration with National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Authority (NAQIA) in PNG and the PNG manufacturers of those products entering Fiji in commercial qualities.

PNG Post-Courier
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