IN light of troubled economic times, such as the current global recession, Australia wants to work with Papua New Guinea on a PACER Plus regional free trade agreement.
Australian High Commissioner Chris Moraitis said this in Kokopo, East New Britain province, on Monday, adding that Australia needed international cooperation to keep the lines of trade and investment open, and to expand opportunities for economic activity.
At this year’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in Cairns, Australia, leaders agreed on the beginning of formal negotiations on PACER Plus.
He said there were more than 4,000 Australian businesses that traded with PNG who knew the enormous potential of PNG.
Already Australia’s bilateral merchandise trade was worth more than A$4 billion (about K9.8 billion) and their primary motivation for PACER Plus was to secure the economic sustainability of the region.
Mr Moraitis said this would include not just opening markets but building the capacity of countries in the region to take advantage of the opportunities created by trade liberalisation.
He said those who might have reservations about PACER Plus could be reassured that by agreeing to negotiate no decisions had been taken and no conclusions were foregone and starting negotiations was simply taking the decision to take a seat at the table.
PNG and other parties would need to undertake a consultation process with their business communities and other stakeholders before entering into any substantive process.
“PNG had emphasised the priority placed on consulting business closely,” Mr Moraitis said