Minister determined to halt Fiji trade
BY MELISHA YAFOI
A SUBMISSION has been made to the National Executive Council to sever all imports of Fijian goods into Papua New Guinea.
This was announced by the Minister for Trade Commerce and Industry Richard Maru during a press conference he held in Port Moresby yesterday.
Mr Maru said PNG is putting its foot down as Fiji has failed over the last 15 years but particularly in the last five months, to justify their continued refusal to allow PNG goods into their markets.
He called Fiji a ‘dishonorable country’ which has failed to honor trade agreements the two countries signed under the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) trade agreement in 1998.
“PNG must now take very aggressive trade sanctions against Fiji. One of the main reasons is the prolonged response after it sent a delegation to PNG to conduct a five month import risk assessment on Ox & Palm, rice and biscuits.”
He described his Fijian counterpart Faiyaz Koya as, “not good enough” explaining that while Fiji had agreed to accept PNG’s famous bully beef-Ox-Palm, Trukai Rice and biscuits, this was only for household quantities-meaning travellers including Papua New Guineans could carry just a little quantity in their bags and not commercial volumes, which PNG was pushing for.
“Now this is a huge insult to PNG. We were not interested in this risk assessment because we do not want to bring only household quantities, we want to export large volumes of our products,” he said.
He threatened that as a result of these actions PNG would not sign the new MSG trade agreement with member countries (MSGTA3) and would furthermore, not submit to any agreement that Fiji is a part of.
He said PNG will be pursuing a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with the other Melanesian island states.
“I have submitted a proposal for the government to make tough decisions against Fiji and I expect these decision will be made in the coming days,” he said. Mr Maru argued contrary to the bio-security risks Fiji had been citing for the entry of PNG goods into Fiji, that the main reason was it (Fiji) was determined to protect its local industries.
“We don’t export much to Fiji, we don’t need Fiji and we should cut trade ties with Fiji because we export less than K5m to Fiji while trade in their favour is about K100m.”
He said a letter will be given to the Fiji High Commission to settle this.