Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Malaysian Governments need to do more to build government-to-government and people-to-people relations between the two countries to further boost trade and investment.
The Minister for International Trade and Investment, Richard Maru stated this during his bilateral meeting with the Malaysian Deputy Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, His Excellency Liew Chin Tong at the APEC Trade Ministers Meeting in Detroit, United States.
“Malaysia is the second biggest investor in Papua New Guinea in the non-renewable sector with over US$10 million investment and over 200 companies. In terms of trade, the total trade between the two countries stands at over K22 billion in 2021 and is expected to increase over time. This trade and investment relations is purely built on the private sector,” said Minister Maru.
“There is a great opportunity for both countries to further enhance their existing bilateral relations by encouraging greater cooperation in trade and investment, including a possible Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (IPPA), a trade agreement and other technical cooperation, including the areas of education and digital trade,” said Minister Maru.
The two Ministers agreed for senior officials to meet in July this year to discuss steps forward on the scope of the possible exchange visits by the Prime Ministers of both countries hopefully by the end of this year.
“We are encouraged by Malaysian investors like WR Carpenters who are already in PNG and invested in manufacturing and shipping services and we want to see more investment from Malaysia in downstream processing of raw materials such as logs and timber products,” said Minister Maru.
Minister Maru also informed Deputy Minister Tong that PNG Government had made the decision to ban round log export by 2025 and he invited Malaysian investors, especially those that have experience in global forestry product market to come and invest in this sector.
“The agriculture and manufacturing industries in PNG have grasped the interest of the Malaysian investors and further extended the invitation to Malaysian investors to invest in PNG’s proposed SEZ sites.
On other issues of bilateral cooperation, Minister Maru noted that Malaysian High Commission in Port Moresby had secured a piece of land in Port Moresby to build its Chancery, but it is yet to build its Office.
“Similarly, Department of Foreign Affairs should commence discussion with their Malaysian counterpart for a reciprocal arrangement for the Government of Malaysia to allocate a piece of land for PNG High Commission Chancery to be built in Kuala Lumpur. This is necessary to enhance the PNG-Malaysia bilateral relations,” said Minister Maru.
This will be one of the issues that will be discussed in the suggested Senior Officials Meeting between the two countries later in the year.
Meanwhile, Minister Maru will visit Malaysia straight after the APEC meetings to meet with his counterpart Minister and potential investors who are interested in investing in coconut, palm oil, cattle, and manufacturing sector in PNG.
Plans have advanced to a point where Minister Maru will be in Malaysia to finalize discussions for two new coconut oil refineries to be built in Madang and Kokopo this year so PNG will for the first time since independence cease exporting crude coconut oil from the oil mills in Madang and in Rabaul.
“This exciting development will signal the start of the Marape Government’s efforts to downstream produce all our agriculture raw materials to final products to meet our own local demand and export to markets in other countries,” said Minister Maru.