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While Papua New Guinea’s tuna fisheries industry has prospered under the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) signed in 2007 by threefold, it now has to contend with the same duty free exemptions to the European market accorded to its major competitors in the region.
National Fisheries Authority (NFA) executive manager for provincial support and industry development, Justin Ilakini outlined this challenge the country and industry has to content with if it is to remain competitive in the European marketplace.
He made the comments when asked about the progress and purpose of the IEPA as it contributes immensely to some of the highest rates of trade experience between PNG and the larger EU region.
“The challenge for us in PNG that I see especially is preference erosion.
“Preference erosion meaning that the kind of tariff level that we have been exempted, other countries are now exempted to.
“Like when we gained market access to Europe we were exempted from paying 24 per cent duty on canned tuna in oil or brine into Europe.
“But now that similar treatment is given to under GSP (Generalised System of Preference) Plus to Thailand, Philippines and to Indonesia.
He said under the World Trade Organisation requirement of creating a level playing field for global trade, it will be challenging for PNG if it is trying to counter the leveling of the market with major competitors in Asia.
Pointing out a dilemma PNG has to contend with as the lure into PNG investment by regional players in the country may have been centered around the attraction of the euro currency opportunities from the IEPA arrangement.
“Now that Philippines will be enjoying GSP Plus, meaning that they will be also enjoying that duty free access to the EU and noting that most of the fish that are caught in PNG waters are from our Filipino development partners are going to GenSan to be processed that is something that is conflicting with some of our policy objectives so these are some of challenges that we will be faced with and now they will be having easy access into Europe and as a result of which they are keen to invest.
“Now that they have that are they going to remain? These are some of the things,” Ilakini pointed out.
Policy counters to such concerns that may come in the form of recent statements by Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resource Dr Lino Tom of aims by government to have a requirement of 50 per cent onshore processing by 2022.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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