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Papua New Guinea now has its own and very first ever National Trade Policy (NTP).
The policy document was officially launched by the Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel.
The NTP gives the country an upper hand to negotiate trade with its partners after 42 years and without a clear and strong policy framework.
The deputy prime minister Abel had said international trade and investment are vital driver of economic growth and development. However shifting geopolitics, new business models, spread of international production network and growth in digital economy are creating new challenges.
He said he pleased that the government has developed this policy which will set a coherent policy frame work designed to provide clear policy linkages with a clear vision to guide PNG towards an internationally competitive export driven economy that is built on and aided by an expanding and efficient domestic market.
Outgoing minister for Trade Commerce and Industry and now minister for National Planning and Monitoring Richard Maru said trade, investment, and the operation of the domestic market including marketing commodities on the export market, were being done without any clear goals and guiding principles linked to the advancement of the economy.
Maru said they were poorly coordinated since independence and did not receive the support from all key stakeholders as they rightfully deserve.
As a result he instructed his department to develop a National Trade Policy as a matter of priority which saw his team working in partnership with the European Union who funded both Trade Related Assistance Phases one (TRA1) and Two (TRA 2) Program including intensive Technical Assistance to the Trade Division.
Maru said the policy is a result of commitment by the O’Neill-Dion government three years ago to make trade a priority.
“The heavy reliance on the extractive sector and limited downstream processing has been detrimental to PNG, as fluctuations in international oil, gas and commodity prices have adversely affected overall economic performance.
“The trade policy is therefore the ongoing government’s declaration of more autonomy and control over international trade matters to ensure that PNG businesses and PNG workers maintain an equal and fair opportunity in the global market.
Meanwhile, the PNG government has announced the suspension on the tariff reduction programme in country.
The announcement was made by Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel in Port Moresby on Wednesday during the launch of the country’s first ever National Trade Policy (NTP).
Abel said this is one of a number of corrective measures the government has had to undertake, to lay the foundation for a robust, competent and sustainable economy for Papua New Guinea.
This comes against a backdrop where the country’s foreign reserves have fallen well behind heightening the need for efficient economic management.
“We currently have about US$1.5billion in reserves each month when the demand is US$3bn causing the Bank of PNG (BPNG) to introduce foreign exchange controls for accessing foreign exchange,” he said.
“But those are causing those with it to keep it offshore while our economy suffers.
“Hence forth our performance in International Trade is directly responsible for this weak outcome,” Mr Abel said.
Abel said the corrective measures the government would be taking on follows, a review on all existing trade agreements through a cost analysis study.
He said based on this, decisions had to be made on which agreements were more important for PNG.
Hence the decision to suspend this program and further to suspend trade with countries who continuously and unfairly discriminate against PNG’s trade opportunities /potentials.
“Through this process we have also decided not to sign the PACER Plus but look at different arrangements with Australia and New Zealand that would result in direct and indirect benefits in terms of foreign direct investment, capital inflow, increase export earnings and create more new jobs for our people,” Abel said.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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