PNG and Aust Ministers talk 'aid to trade'

Radio New Zealand International:

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


The Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato has met his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop as part of the annual ministerial forum in PNG.

Mr Pato says they covered a wide range of topics including what he terms the move from 'aid to trade.'

He spoke to Koro Vaka'uta in between meetings.

RIMBINK PATO: Most of the discussions were very constructive with clear understanding. There's agreement as to the way in which we will move forward, particularly in relation to alignment of Australian aid to PNG, where instead of aid we are now moving towards trade and investment partnership which is the focus of the future.

KORO VAKA'UTA: Apart from that move from aid to trade, what were some of the big issues that were involved on the agenda as well?

RP: There is APEC, the hosting of APEC in 2018, what Australia will do for PNG in terms of that by providing support. Of course New Zealand will be a partner in that. We are also talking about defense and police cooperation between PNG and Australia in terms of what the review should be. There's been a deployment of the Australian Federal Police to Papua New Guinea and the original intent of the Australian and PNG government hasn't quite worked but in the course of the deployment we've found some of the problems. We are reviewing them and I think there is greater understanding that it will work better. Other areas that we discussed, people to people links and better cooperation, trade and investment.

KV: Minister, what areas of trade in particular?

RP: Well, trade and investment, how we can align and integrate to promote Australian businesses in PNG and how Papua New Guineans can invest in Australia. One of the those hindrances that we should overcome is in terms of the issuance of the visas. What kind of funding should be provided to private enterprises in the delivery of, for example some of the aid funding, how should they be better aligned to promote private sector investment but at the same time delivering those key outcomes for PNG in the areas of health, education, infrastructure, development and law and order. The Papua New Guinea-Australia Business Council, they are fully engaged in discussions with us.

KV: Have there been any agreements signed or anything concrete out of these talks?

RP: Yes. There's a Communiqué which is going to be issued shortly. The Australian Foreign Minister and myself will be issuing that. It is a very comprehensive communiqué which takes on from a review of the previous communiqué which followed the bilateral talks in Canberra last year. One of the key things we discussed is the Pacific Islands Forum as an proud organisation for the Pacific Islands and the members and the participation of Australia and New Zealand in the Pacific Islands Forum is integral to the partnership of all the Pacific Islands sticking together.   

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