PNG Manufacturers Council Back PNG Trade Minister’s Call To Cut Trade Ties With Fiji

Council Chairman: MSG trade liberalization moves were meant to be 'reciprocal', 'never expected to be effectively and unfairly excluded from their markets'

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, March 20, 2017) – The Manufacturers Council of Papua New Guinea has welcomed Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru’s call to cut trade ties with Fiji.

Chairman Murray Woo said that PNG businesses never held any expectations that PNG would gain the most benefit from the Melanesian Spearhead Group agreements, but certainly did not expect to be treated as a least desirable trader.

Mr Woo said in a statement at the weekend that PNG was a much larger market place and supported the significant value that preferential access to PNG’s market gave to smaller Melanesian countries in the knowledge that they would have the most to gain from the deal.

"It was to be a reciprocal arrangement. We certainly never expected to be effectively and unfairly excluded from their markets.

"The basis of the agreement was for each of us to treat one another better than we treat anyone else; in Melanesian solidarity we would give the best treatment to one another. This has not been the case since the beginning of the agreement," he said.

Mr Woo said that the local manufacturers have cried foul for more than 15 years, adding that Mr Maru was the first to call trade partners out and despite committing to a zero tariff rating by 2012, Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have not met the deal.

He said his office has been effectively excluded from participating in the MSGTA3 discussions however, his chief executive officer had attended several meetings between 2011 and 2014 in which little progress seemed to be made with very little known until a presentation two weeks ago.

Under the second phase of the Agreement trade in goods was fully liberalised, this third phase was to expand into services, investment and improve labour mobility.

"PNG exporters and investors in MSG countries were shocked and astounded as to how badly the negotiations seemed to have gone.

"While we are yet to see the texts, the summaries presented showed that there were great leaps backwards, meaning local exporters would be disadvantaged, and the restrictions placed on PNG investors in the Pacific made it harder for us as PNG Melanesian brothers and sisters than it did for any other of their trading partners."

PNG Post-Courier
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