The National, Tuesday 11th June 2013
By MALUM NALU
A NEW trade organisation will be set up next month to oversee all trade functions in the country, Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru says.
He made the announcement at a dinner last Thursday, at which the Commerce and Industry Department took back the “trade” function from the Foreign Affairs and Trade Department.
Maru said: “I understand that this is the third time the (trade) function has been shifted between the Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Foreign Affairs, and it must be the last time. It has not been good for staff morale.
“This may be a small function, but it’s going to lead to a total change in the way we conduct foreign affairs and business.
“Papua New Guinea has not had a proper trade organisation in the past-in fact, since Independence.
“All our trade relations have been conducted on an ad hoc basis.”
Maru said when he was appointed minister last year, he saw the “absolute mess” the trade function was in but decided that it would remain at foreign affairs until a new department head for commerce and industry was appointed.
“We have, as government, decided by legislation to come up with a new trade organisation which will have two functions,” he said.
“One is investment.
“The other is trade negotiations.
“No instrumentalities of government will perform any trade functions – it will be performed by this new trade organisation.
“One of the first things I will do as minister is review all current trade agreements that we have.
“How can we maximise the value for Papua New Guinea?
“It should be about Papua New Guinea’s interest first.”
Maru declared that his department would be the “game-changer” for PNG.
“We need a shift in our mindset,” he said.
“We need a game changer.
This department will be the game-changer for Papua New Guinea.
“We will build up foreign relationships on the back of trade, on the back of commerce, on the back of industry.
“I think the days of diplomacy, regional security, are outdated.
“The rest of the world is moving towards trade and investment as the basis for relationships.”
The move was welcomed by Foreign Affairs Acting Secretary William Dihm, and Trade, Commerce and Industry Secretary John Andrias.
Dihm said: “We had to discuss the implications of this transfer.
We need to fully cooperate with the Government’s intention to make trade and investment a very key aspect of our Government activities.”