By MEMO HAUKE
PNG has imported K400 million worth of dairy products from Australia and New Zealand in the last 42 years, says Trade Minister Richard Maru.
“Our country is importing more than we are exporting that is why we are struggling with foreign currencies,” he said.
“Too much money is leaving this country because we do not have credible goods that are leaving our country.
“We do not have industries that we do not need to be importing goods from other countries.
Mr Maru said they have recently launched a Trade Policy that calls for the department to set up an independent trade office that manages all the international trade with partners and the bilateral law for international trade.
“As member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) we must trade within the principles interms of the way we conduct international trade,” Mr Maru said.
“We will need assistance and guidance from the European Union to open this office.
“A good example is the diary products; why is it that it is taking us 42 years build a diary farm in the country. We have been importing K400 million worth of dairy products from Australia and New Zealand when we could have easily started a diary industry in the country.”
With this new Trade Policy the government has approved of building a diary industry in the PNG in partnership with an international company and by January next year PNG’s will drink their own milk.
“If we had a trade office focused on replacing such imports we would have already done that to safeguard our money to be within our country,” he said.
“One of our problems in the past has been the trade division moves around between Foreign Affairs and Commerce Trade Industry over many years,” he said.
“That has not helped us to build expertise within the country for areas like trade negotiations. We need capacity to negotiate trade agreements between ourselves and our other partners.
“As you know many regions of the world and many countries are now building bilateral trade agreements, regional trade agreements and without an office that is lead by competent trade officers who got the training and exposure in international trade it will be very difficult for PNG to tap into a lot of the opportunities increase trade flows and especially export of our raw materials in this country.”
According to the European Union Ambassador to PNG Ioannie Giokarakis-Argyropoulus under the economic partnership agreement that the EU provides quota free, duty free access to all PNG products, the EU is the market of 500 million consumers which is very demanding and competitive.
“So we work closely with the NAQIA and the trade office for standard and quality of process programs in PNG,” he said.
Mr Maru said the government is very keen and “as the Planning Minister I am planning to help in any way I can together with the trade office and Foreign Affairs and other agencies to try and encourage EU investment more in PNG”.