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PNG Delegation meets with NZ Business

PNG Delegation meets with NZ Business

Hon Paul Teinsten (PNG Minister of Trade & Industry), Gilbert Ullrich (NZPBC Chairman) & Wayne Golding (PNG Manufacturers Association).

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The Papua New Guinea Minister fro Trade & Industry, Hon Paul Tiensten, attended a high-level business networking meeting, organised by the New Zealand Pacific Business Council (NZPBC), in Wiri, Auckland, on Monday, 12 June 2006. The Minister was accompanied by the PNG High Commissioner to NZ, H E Bernard Narokobi, and a team of officials that included the Chairman of the manufacturers’ Council of PNG, Mr Wayne Golding.

Despite the power cuts in Auckland on the day, a good turnout of NZ business people attended the two-hour function with the Minister.

The Minister and his delegation was welcomed by the NZPBC Chairman, Gilbert Ullrich, who outlined the “two-way” objectives of the NZPBC, and the wide range of 26 countries that his Council deals with - from the very small, like Pitcairn Island (with a population of just over 40 people), to PNG with approximately 6 million. He also mentioned his recent trip to Vanuatu and the Cook Islands, with Rt Hon Winston Peters and Hon Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, and that the NZPBC has just been encouraged to add Timor-Leste (a near neighbour of PNG) to its list of countries within the Council.

Mr Ullrich highlighted that PNG was already an important source of oil for NZ (NZ$83.7 million in the past 12 months). This would extend to bulk supplies of natural gas, when this resource was fully developed and the pipeline built to Queensland (Australia), which would enable cost-effective bulk shipment to NZ. He also emphasised the huge reserves of other natural resources, like precious metals, copper, nickel, bauxite, tropical hardwood, fish and coffee. He added that the variable topography provides just about every microclimate (including temperate conditions in the elevated highlands), despite it being quite close to the equator.

Whilst New Zealand’s merchandise trade surpluses with all Pacific Island countries are generally large, NZ’s trade with PNG is almost in balance Ie. NZ’s total exports to PNG for the year ending April 2006 were NZ$109 million, and imports were NZ$92 million - and increasing oil imports could soon see PNG becoming the first Pacific Island nation to enjoy a trade surplus with NZ.

Mr Ullrich concluded by saying he was delighted that PNG had participated in the NZPBC’s recent Pacific Trade Expo, and that he saw this meeting as part of on-going business networking between PNG and NZ. He hoped a Trade Mission to PNG by NZ businesspeople could happen this year.

Hon Paul Tiensten responded by stating that he believed that inter-country trade happened because of private sector initiatives, and that government’s role was essentially to facilitate these opportunities. He was therefore pleased to engage with the NZ private sector, and looked forward to increasing contact between PNG and NZ businesses. He felt that a private sector driven organisation like the NZPBC was an appropriate vehicle to make this happen.

Mr Tiensten, who gained his LLM from Dundee University in Scotland, has also spent a short period in Auckland a few years ago. He welcomes NZ input into capacity building in his country, and was keen to draw on areas of special NZ expertise, like agriculture and fishing. He hoped this could begin now and gradually build up over time.

- NZ Pacific Business Council

ENDS

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