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Trade, HIV-Aids feature in PNG talks

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

19 October 2004

Trade, HIV-Aids feature in PNG talks

Measures to help Papua New Guinea export new products to New Zealand, and moves to combat PNG’s growing HIV-Aids problem, featured in talks between the two countries' Foreign Ministers in Wellington today.

“PNG’s exports to New Zealand are currently dominated by oil and gas products, and there is scope for expansion in overall trade. Two-way trade between the two countries is over $250 million and is in New Zealand's favour," Foreign Ministers Phil Goff and Sir Rabbie Namaliu said in a joint statement.

"The best way for PNG to address this is by broadening its range of exports, including more fresh produce.

"To that end, New Zealand and PNG officials are working to establish quarantine requirements that will allow PNG pineapples and cooking bananas to enter New Zealand. Once arrangements are successful in place for those crops, priority will be given to ginger, sweet potato and asparagus.

"New Zealand's development agency, NZAID, is also supporting the development of a refrigerated transportation system to move produce from the market gardens in PNG's Highlands to the port in Lae, and on to Port Moresby.

"Another key to expanding trade is to improve sea freight arrangements for existing exports, and we welcome work being done on a bilateral quarantine agreement which should speed up the clearance of PNG sea containers on arrival in New Zealand."

PNG is suffering a serious and growing HIV-Aids epidemic, with an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 cases. Although international agencies have now committed annual funding of over $US50 million to combat the disease, the Ministers agreed that community awareness of the disease needed to be raised in PNG.

“PNG is New Zealand’s second-largest aid recipient, with around $30 million committed over the next three years. Much of this is focused on primary health care, including raising awareness of HIV-Aids. Community leadership is critical, and NZAID is working on programmes to address this."

The Ministers also welcomed progress in the weapons disposal process on Bougainville, where 92 per cent of contained weapons have now been destroyed.

“Completion of the weapons disposal will be an important milestone in the peace process and help pave the way for the upcoming Bougainville elections."

Other subjects discussed during the sixth annual consultation were the development of a constitution for the new Bougainville government, and preparations for PNG’s hosting of the 2005 Pacific Islands Forum.


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