PNG prefers bilaterals to PACER Plus

Apr 8, 2024 | Uncategorized

Papua New Guinea’s Minister for International Trade and Investment, Richard Maru, affirmed his country’s stance of the last decade to abstain from joining PACER Plus during his initial meeting with the new Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, John Feakes.

Minister for International Trade and Investment, Hon. Richard Maru.

Mr Maru conveyed that Papua New Guinea remains disinterested in PACER Plus due to long-standing trade imbalances heavily favouring Australia. He said, “Australia hardly buys from PNG with trade skewed in Australia’s favour for decades.”

Highlighting the significant trade gap, Mr Maru pointed out that in 2022, Papua New Guinea’s exports to Australia totalled AUD$1.6 billion (K4 billion), predominantly comprising gold and other precious metals, while Australia’s exports to Papua New Guinea amounted to AUD$95.9 million (K240.5 million).

He underscored Papua New Guinea’s perspective, stating, “So as far as we are concerned, it is pointless to negotiate a PACER Plus agreement.”

Mr Maru proposed instead the pursuit of a new comprehensive economic trade and investment bilateral partnership with Australia, encompassing broader benefits for Papua New Guinea beyond mere trade in goods. He outlined potential areas of collaboration, including the employment of skilled Papua New Guineans, investments in non-extractive sectors, and other mutually beneficial initiatives.

Regarding upcoming initiatives, Mr Maru mentioned the forthcoming release of the PNG-Australia Bilateral Trade Assessment report by the Centre of International Economics. Additionally, he indicated plans to appoint a new Honorary Trade Commissioner to Australia in Brisbane by month-end, aiming to attract Australian investors to Papua New Guinea’s non-extractive sectors such as forestry, fisheries, agriculture, and tourism.

Acknowledging Australia’s significance as a trade partner and investor, Mr Maru expressed gratitude, stating, “Australia is Papua New Guinea’s largest trade partner with bilateral trade of over AUD$6 billion (K15 billion) in 2022 and is a major investor in Papua New Guinea with investment valued at over AUD$24.8 billion (K62.2 billion) in 2022.”