Prime Minister James Marape’s four-nation visit – that includes meetings with a king and three heads of government, and an address to the United Nations – is taking Papua New Guinea’s trade and business interest to the next level.
This is as Prime Minister Marape works at expanding PNG’s bi-lateral relations from the traditionally political and social one that often concentrated on donor aid to strategic economic relations where the focus is on specific areas of trade and investment as he negotiates at the highest level directly with heads of governments.
As he did last year when PM Marape visited China and sold 3 million metric tonnes of gas from Papua LNG to Sinopec through his negotiations with the Chinese government, the value of discussions at the prime ministerial level is always the highest.
On Sunday (250922), Prime Minister Marape was in Australia to meet with his Australian counterpart Hon.
Tony Albanese after delivering his country statement on Thursday (220922) at the 77th United Nations General Assembly that was very well-received by Papua New Guineans back home.
Before that, PM Marape was in the United Kingdom to attend the funeral of late Queen Elizabeth II where he met with King Charles III.
As the prime ministers of PNG and Australia acquainted over the Prime Ministers XIII rugby league match at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon, they also took the opportunity to discuss labour mobility covering TVET, nursing and labour hires – needs that Australia currently has that PNG can fill.
“The Australian Prime Minister and I watched the Prime Ministers XIII and had a bilateral meeting as a prelude to our PNG-Australia ministerial meetings that will take place in Canberra, as well as when the Australian PM visits PNG in December,” said PM Marape.
“In the last three years, we have elevated PNG-Australia relations to the highest level we can go. This is encapsulated in the Comprehensive Strategic Economic Partnership between us and Australia.
“This partnership involves areas of trade and economic arrangements that now includes the recruitment of labour and Papua New Guineans working in Australia in terms of the skills we can provide to Australia, and Australia picking up our products from PNG.
“So we have now elevated our relationship from a political and social level and aid/donor type of arrangements to strategic economic relationship.
“Australia has been buying from us, and we focusing now on areas of forestry downstream processing, agriculture downstream, livestock downstream, and fisheries downstream.
“Many Australian businesses are in PNG, and we are encouraging them to move into these downstream spaces so we can send finished products back to them instead of primary raw products all the time,” said Prime Minister Marape.
After the Prime Ministers’ XIII match, the PNG Prime Minister is flying out to join another round of world leaders at the funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who during his tenure, had been supportive of PNG in our mutual bi-lateral relationship.
While observing the funeral, PM Marape is scheduled to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Hon. Fumio Kishida on Tuesday (270922) in a bi-lateral conversation that again aims at promoting trade and investments focusing on PNG’s renewable sectors of forestry, fisheries, and agriculture.
After the visit to Japan, PM Marape will return to United States to join members of the Pacific Island Forum who are scheduled to meet with American President Hon. Joe Biden, during which PM Marape will have the opportunity for a one-on-one meeting with the President.
PM Marape said of this: “Papua New Guinea’s position with the US is clear. While we have been having a strong political and administrative relationship, we are asking United States to buy more products from PNG especially as we work at sending finished products in agriculture, fisheries and forestry to the world.
And we want the United States to also pick up its fair share from us. “We are also inviting them to come in and partner us, take up residence here in the downstream processing sector.
“America’s number one company, ExxonMobil is already here. Now we invite others to join up in our Special Economic Zones and in and around the country where we will give them special support.
“Our International Trade & Investment Minister Richard Maru has been tasked to look into this space, and part of my job as prime minister when I meet leaders of countries is to pitch the direction in which our country is moving, and lobby for investors to come in and open up markets in the countries that I visit,” said PM Marape.
The Prime Minister said while under his watch, he would promote and push a national interest that focused on downstream processing and the sale of finished products done in the country, ready to be sold throughout the world.
“PNG is privileged to have relationships with these big economies – United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, India, South Korea and the Philippines.
These are huge markets. “As I visit them and sit with their heads of government, it is time to consolidate our relationships looking into the next decade.
We want renewed partnerships that focuses on downstream processing of our agriculture, fisheries and forestry. These bi-lateral relationships must now be anchored in trade and commerce,” said Prime Minister Marape.