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Papua New Guinea Trade Minister Richard Maru did not mince words Thursday castigating efforts to lure PNG to sign the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations PLUS (PACER PLUS) deal.
After eight long years of negotiations Australia has been hoping negotiations on the trade arrangement will reach an amicable conclusion this year.
However, it highly unlikely or rather if it does proceed it will be without PNG, with its continued refusal to budge on its stance.
Early this week, Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare while in the country, had met with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in an attempt to persuade him to change Papua New Guinea’s hardline stance.
However, Sogavare’s attempts proved futile with O’Neill reiterating PNG’s stance, that it would not sign up to the deal in its current form.
Maru thanked the PM O’Neill for advising his counterpart on the country’s stance.
“I find it laughable that Australia will send the SI to try and lobby PNG to sign the agreement. How many times do I have to tell the Australians and New Zealand that PNG will not sign a deal which seeks to advance their commercial interest at the expense of our national interest? We will not sign, we will not listen including to the SI Prime Minister and I made that very clear and I want to reiterate, he is wasting his time coming,” he said.
The lashing on Australia continued with Maru saying it was also hypocritical that Australian officials have been busy in Indonesia, a nation it has never invested in an attempt to negotiate an Economic partnership-a deal PNG has been pushing with them.
“The trade is so lopsided and to their advantage, hardly any PNG businesses operate in Australia, because of the double tax treaty with PNG all Australian firms pay tax to Australia, they take so much out of this country and yet they don’t want to talk about economic partnership with this country- a deal where we will get a far better deal.
“For us simple, we want a comprehensive economic partnership with Australia or nothing,” he said.
SOURCE: POST COUROER/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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