Prime Minister Marape says PNG - Australia relations remain top priority


PRIME MINISTER MARAPE SAYS PNG-AUSTRALIA RELATIONS REMAINS TOP PRIORITY

Approved for Release: Monday, 29th July, 2019

The Prime Minister Hon. James Marape says Papua New Guinea’s relations with Australia remains one of the nation’s top priority.

He said this today (Monday 29/07/19) after returning from Australia after concluding a successful official visit to Australia last week.

“Within the framework of our anchor foreign policy, “friends to all enemy to none” our bilateral relationship with Australia remains top of our national priorities as our closest and most active nation in terms of government to government, people to people or business to business relationships.

“But in today’s contemporary world, foreign relationship is more inclusive of trade then just politics hence it was in those context that I had to accept Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s invitation to be his first official head of government guest to Canberra since his re-election as Prime Minister recently.

“I took this opportunity to consolidate on our Nation’s view on improving our relationship to a better and higher level including us having an equal economic relationship then as in the present case where there is huge trade imbalances and where PNG citizens and business find it hard entering Australian market contrary to ease in which Australian citizens and businesses enter PNG’’, said Prime Minister Marape.

He also said that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated his Government’s policy of “step up in Pacific” will include greater dialogue with PNG that has 80% of the entire Pacific population.

“In that regard, specific to PNG we have announced a “Strategic Comprehensive Economic Partnership and an upcoming PNG-Australia Ministerial Forum in Port Moresby will consolidate on what this policy entails, which should pave the way going forward to achieve key trade and economic policies we desire as a nation.

“I envisage our downstream processed high-quality agriculture, timber and fisheries and other goods to find their way into Australian markets into the future.

“I want our highly trained, skilled and experienced work force to find employment in Australia when they are labour deficient to complement our seasonal labour supply especially in areas of technical professions. “

“I dream that one day we supply Australia with water and hydro-power generated electricity from the delta of Papua. And I dream our specialized economic zones will attract industries into doing business here in PNG.’’

“All these are possible for Australia, which is a world class economy right next door to us in our Pacific family of nations hence fine tuning our relationship is part of the processes building and growing our economy going forward.’’

“On the occasion of our visit, Prime Minister Morrison announced closed to a billion Kina worth of aid intervention in areas of electricity, health, education, law and justice sector and we appreciated this help’’, said Prime Minister Marape.

But he also said that he stressed the need for greater economic partnerships to ensure PNG is economically independent then being aid dependent.

 

“It was agreed that there will be an annual Prime Minister’s dialogue before the annual ministers meeting in which all country to country issues will be continually discussed, reviewed, assessed and progressed going forward.

“PNG has great potential in many areas including agriculture, fisheries, tourism and timber and we are pointing our future towards downstream processing of our resources to add value before export instead of raw materials as in the case now.

“We are also strategically placed in the middle of Pacific and Asia where consumer need for our goods and services can be found. Let us harness from these opportunities and make benefits for our country going forward into the 2020s and beyond’’, said Prime Minister Marape.

The Prime Minister said amongst other issues discussed, one other matter was for the Australian intelligence network to assist PNG on our fight against corruption where data on certain files and money laundering can be exchanged, when our police and investigators need to access.

“I have stressed the Government, our Marape-Steven government’s effort to combat corruption to the Australian Prime Minister and senior officials during the visit.

“Other specific matters discussed and outcomes reached in this leader’s meeting will be released to public in due course’’, concluded Prime Minister Marape.