THE Australian Government has expressed very serious concerns over the new PNG Rice Policy and especially the policy to provide import quotas for rice importers.
It is understood the Australian Government is irked over PNG Government plans to provide an 80 percent quota to a proposed unknown rice importer Naime Agro Innovative Industry Limited.
This company has no international rice business or previous rice experience. The Australian Trade Minister claims the proposed rice policy will amount to unilateral expropriation of an Australia Investment (Trukai Rice) and may breach several provisions of the Australia – Papua New Guinea for the Promotion and Protection of Investments (IPPA) including Papua New Guinea’s obligation to provide fair and equitable treatment to Australia investors; a prohibition of indirect expropriation without proper adequate and effective compensation; and prohibition of an arbitrary, unreasonable or discriminatory measure.
Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo in a strongly worded letter to PNG Trade Minister Richard Maru said a quota system would also be inconsistent with Papua New Guinea’s obligation as a Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). As such the Government of Australia would be authorized under WTO rules to take retaliatory action against PNG exports to Australia.
If PNG Government still proceeds with its quota policy, the Australian Government will be compelled to consider options available to it under the IPPA and through WTO.
Minister Maru said the issues raised with him by the Australia Trade Minister are very serious and he will now have their concerns processed, by his Ministry and the PNG Department of Trade, Commerce and Industry and our Government.
“I will be advising the Prime Minister and the NEC of my position on the issues raised by the Australian Government after I have received cogent and competent technical and legal advice before we take a position as Government and respond to the concerns of the Australia Government” over the PNG Rice Policy,” he said.