NEWS DESK | PNG Today | Edited
PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea’s prime minister James Marape has requested that China enter a free trade arrangement (FTA) with PNG and Pacific Island countries to boost the economy of the region.
Marape made these request at a meeting with the Chinese ambassador to PNG, Xue Bing, saying he was mindful that a similar arrangement with Australia and New Zealand was under review to ensure it seeks tangible outcomes.
The meeting agenda included PNG refinancing its K27 billion debt with China, the upcoming Third China-Pacific Islands economic cooperation forum to be held in Samoa in October, and forthcoming Pacific Islands Forum meetings to be held in Tuvalu this month.
“I also suggested for Chinese investment in the Agriculture and Fisheries sector, and in particularly establishing down streaming processing plants for products in forestry, fisheries, mining and petroleum, and general food production and supply in PNG,” Marape said.
Bing raised concerns with forum hosted by Tuvalu which has diplomatic relations with Taiwan and urged PNG to support China to allow it to speak at the forum meeting at which China wants to deliver a statement on strengthening relations in the region.
Marape maintains that all nations are sovereign states and that each forum member is entitled to decide on who its external partners are.
He said PNG’s One China Policy has always been the cornerstone of relations with China. Given this and favourable relations with China, PNG will support China on regional issues of mutual importance.
Bing briefed Marape on China’s investments in PNG and said they were much less compared with PNG’s other development partners. China’s two major projects are Ramu Nickel and the Porgera gold mine.
The two men also exchanged views on global food security and discussed entering an agricultural cooperation arrangement to supply PNG organic food and vegetables to the Chinese market and entering an agreement for Chinese Investors to build fisheries processing plants in PNG.
Bing invited Marape to China to “consolidate” agreement on key issues including air services, tourism, mining, petroleum, electricity, roads, ports, education, the Chinese language curriculum to be introduced in schools, and encouraging business investment from China.
Marape said all business investors and other officials traveling to PNG would be facilitated by the PNG Embassy in Beijing so meetings with senior government officials and ministers are properly coordinated.