Australian rice exports to PNG at risk

Farming

SunRice executives have travelled to Port Moresby to fight the Papua New Guinean government’s decision to impose a 20 per cent import quota on the Australian company.
SunRice, which is based in the Riverina in New South Wales, is the major partner with a PNG firm in a deal that brings in about A$360 million (K1.14m) annually.
The PNG government has awarded an Indonesian company an 80 per cent quota on imports.
The government has described the Indonesian company as “pioneer investors” that are willing to develop a domestic rice industry in PNG.
SunRice chairman and Riverina rice grower Laurie Arthur said he had assured about 1000 employees in PNG that his company would do everything it could to ensure their jobs were secure.
He said SunRice executives were considering legal action, given Australia had a bilateral deal with PNG.
“It’s a very fluid situation and we haven’t really worked out what we are going to do at this stage,” Arthur said.
SunRice operates in PNG under the brand Trukai, and has about 75 per cent of the rice market.
Frank Yourn, executive director of the Australia-Papua New Guinea Business Council, told the ABC he was concerned the government decision would send a “negative signal to investors, not only Australian investors, but investors anywhere”.
“If their investments aren’t properly protected by the international agreements that Papua New Guinea has entered into, then that’s a deep concern for companies,” he said.
Arthur said he did not expect the new import quotas would come into force this financial year.
“We’re imploring the government not to take this step,” he said.
“We believe it will be a very negative thing for the people of Papua New Guinea, because we supply them with high quality rice.
“For 40 years we supplied the food security for Papua New Guinea.”
Trukai, an Australian-owned rice brand in Papua New Guinea, is responsible for about 75 per cent of the PNG market. – abcrural.com

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