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10 February 2010

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I suggest Australia was still a reluctant coloniser because some self-centred Australians in those early days treated us unfairly by stealing our minerals and left without a trace.

For example, the South Fly oil well pads seen today, a clear evident of colonial days.

I'm no economist, but on the figures I can find from government trade organisations, the PNG-Australia business council and the POM Chamber of Commerce investment guide, PNG enjoys a positive balance of trade with Australia, as well as the rest of the world (i.e., value of exports exceeds value of imports) and this has been the case for well over a decade.

This is obviously affected by the forestry, mining and petroleum sectors. If you look at other sectors a different story is revealed.

The problem is those sectors which generate the greatest export income are those which do not directly benefit the average PNGean.

There is virtually no PNG agricultural produce in Australia (apart from coffee and maybe coconut and palm oil hidden in other products). But Australia has plenty of PNG gold, copper, LNG etc.

Seems to be a problem of macro structural economics, rather than straight trade imbalance.

Still I don't know why you can't find PNG-produced dairy products in PNG, but the supermarket shelves are stacked with expensive imports from Australia and NZ.

Hopefully, Reg, your advice to the pollies can help change some policies in the future.

Peter - One basic and simple way to offset this trade imbalance. Instead of giving PNG some $500 million in its annual grant, Australia can easily offset the cost of exporting to PNG.

Here with a reduced import duty (at the PNG end) a hand of bananas could sell in Australia's supermarkets for just under K5 (about $2).

The trade could have other mechanisms factored into it so good, wholesome and organic Ausssie food can be imported into PNG at very reasonable cost.

It is Australia's way of regional assistance.

Australia need to export subsidise PNG and smaller Island states in the Pacific as apart from its normal aid transactions (in cash or kind).

There are many ways to skin a cat. But it seems both sides lack creative trade transactions.

Sorry, Peter, I can't agree with you. I support an ailing rural industry here. When I go to Woolworths, I refuse to go anywhere near Coles, I buy only fruit and vegetables that are labelled 'Produce of Australia'.

I also support the local butcher's shop (a dying breed here in Brisbane thanks to supermarket chains and big shopping centres with their rents) and the greengrocer.

I also only buy canned or bottled food/condiments that have the same "made in country" name. I support Dick Smith.

The rural industry here has its back to the wall. There was a time when it was said that "Australia lived on the back of a sheep" - or something like that! Oranges from California do not impress me.

Reg - One example I noticed while shopping yesterday. Bananas are still retailing in Coles and Woolworths for around $13 a kilo - close to K33 for about six bananas.

This is due to a shortage resulting from the Queensland floods and cyclone. How many people in PNG would pay over K5 for one banana?

This seems a great opportunity to open up an export trade for PNG growers.

But Australia can't import bananas or other fruit from PNG or other Pacific countries due to over-enthusiastic quarantine regulations.

Stupid or what?

Good question, Dave. Australia is wasting its taxpayer's money in giving PNG an annual grant when it should really be improving the 'trade imbalance' between the two countries.

Why has Australia been pumping more aid (AusAID) into PNG in the post-colonial period?

I think the aid should have been given to PNG when Australia was still a reluctant coloniser......

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