The National, Friday February 7th, 2014
AUSTRALIA invested K39 billion in Papua New Guinea from 2007-13, with the two-way trade between the two countries amounting to A$5.8 billion (K12.6 billion) last year, an official said.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting yesterday, Australia Papua New Guinea Business Council (APNGBC)-PNG branch president Phil Franklin said Australia’s export of goods and services into the country last year was A$2.8 billion (K6 billion).
He said Australia imported A$3 billion (K5.5 billion) worth of goods from PNG.
Franklin said as a peak body, the APNGBC, through its respective memberships in both nations, focused on bilateral issues that could improve business and trade between them.
He said the APNGBC work programme had covered issues relating to visas, trade treaties, tariffs and the delivery of Australian Aid.
APNGBC supported the vision of unrestricted movement of citizens between both countries, Franklin said.
He said: “On the Australian side, the APNGBC made representation to the Australian government officials in 2011 about the difficult and lengthy process that was required for our PNG employees to get visas to attend conferences, workshops and training in Australia.
“It is very pleasing to note that the process has been made much simpler.
“On the PNG side, the process of receiving visas on arrival has been a cost effective mechanism for PNG Immigration to manage the dramatic increase in visitors.
The APNGBC has requested over a period of time for the introduction of a PNG short-term business visa, which would allow for example, technicians to enter PNG to work and conduct diagnostic service and repair of the increasingly more complex machinery and equipment.
“We are advised that the restricted entry visa (REV) is to be approved as part of the amendments to the migration act and we support its rapid implementation and suggest that it is made available online.
“On the back of recent announcements in PNG that the visitor visa entry process will revert to requiring a visa before arrival, the APNGBC’s view is that this will be to the detriment of improving travel between the countries effecting tourism and relative’s visits to PNG.”
To offset any possible negative drop in visitor numbers APNGBC would encourage the PNG government to invest and develop its own online visa system and to also move to using electronic, biometric passports for its citizens.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said yesterday that PNG’s economy was in a transition given the completion of the PNG LNG project.