Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is keen to strengthen trade relations with Fiji and says he sees no reason to dissuade PNG investors from continuing to invest in the country.
“We have no trouble that Fiji will return to a democratically elected government. The assurances we are getting from the Prime Minister and the rest of the leaders in the Fiji Govt that that is happening,” O’Neill said.
“We have every confidence that the Fiji economy will continue to do well. In fact it will improve over time and that would give a lot more opportunities for the investors.”
To that end the PNG Govt he says has been encouraging more investment from PNG into Fiji and vice versa.
In his discussions with Fiji’s PM Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama upon arriving into Fiji Friday, O’Neill said they talked about increasing trade between the two countries.
“We discussed issues about the removal of some the duty and tariffs on many of the products that are being produced in both countries so they can access the market a bit more easily,” he said.
“We have just lifted in PNG about 400 duty-free items to go into the PNG market so the trade between the two countries is increasing every year. We look forward to that continuing to provide a lot more opportunities for our citizens in terms of employment and also income earning opportunities.”
The two government heads also spoke at length about labour mobility between the two countries.
“I think Fiji has got a lot of skilled people here who can find employment in PNG so we are trying to relax labour visa requirements so that many of them can enter the workforce easily and vice versa. PNG citizens can also come and work in Fiji without much restrictions.”
In fact he said it would be great for other Pacific Island countries to do the same to improve general economy and know-how within the region.
The PNG leader also relayed his government’s willingness to assist Fiji “in whatever capacity we can” to the 2014 elections.
“The discussion with the PM indicates that the process in the formation of the constitution is going on well. The consultations with all stakeholders are going well.
“We are very happy with the progress that has been made so far. We are also happy with the progress in the Voter Registration. We understand that over 400,000 people have been registered ready to vote in the 2014 elections.
“We stand ready to assist Fiji in whatever capacity we can.”
O’Neill returns to PNG tomorrow morning.
By Lavenia Vuadreu