O’Neill praises China meeting

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PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has welcomed the strengthening of bilateral engagement between Papua New Guinea and China in talks with the Chinese president and premier over the past few days.
Meeting in Beijing last Friday, O’Neill further congratulated President Xi Jinping on his recent re-election.
“Talks with Xi and Premier Li Keqiang were productive and from this we have agreed on a number of issues that are very positive” he said.
“Nearly four years ago, we agreed to engage at the level of strategic partnership.
“Now, with the evolution of our bilateral relationship, we have agreed to step this up to a new level of comprehensive strategic partnership.
“This is important from the perspective of enabling much higher level ongoing official engagements to negotiating trade and investment arrangements between our countries.
“We can develop new initiatives and projects, fast-track significant agreements and facilitate new direct foreign investments at a much higher level.”
O’Neill said both governments agreed to advance talks to establish a free trade agreement.
“A PNG-China free trade agreement has the potential to stimulate a significant increase in trade, business and employment if it is done right,” he said.
“Every FTA between countries is complicated and must deliver clear benefits for all parties.
“Papua New Guinea and China will now advance this discussion through a joint feasibility study, from which the modalities of any proposed FTA can be negotiated.
“Papua New Guinea is already undertaking our own national feasibility study ahead of the joint feasibility study, this is to ensure we enter negotiations with full information.
“PNG welcomes the One-Belt and Road Initiative that has been developed under Xi’s leadership.
“This will open market opportunities for Papua New Guinea in China, as well further trans-shipment points around Asia and Europe.
“PNG will support the initiative through a series of MoUs with the Chinese government.
“The first of these projects will deliver new infrastructure projects in the Eastern and Western Highlands.
“PNG appreciates China’s support in hosting Apec in 2018.
“At our meetings on Friday with Xi and Li, China offered to provide supply of X-ray security items for Apec and technical support to manage the International Convention Centre.
“ Xi was the first Apec leader to personally accept my invitation to attend the Apec Summit, and we thank him and the government of China for their ongoing support.”
O’Neill said the two nations had agreed to continue to work together on a number of global issues where both countries had shared positions.
“China and Papua New Guinea agree that reform is needed in the UN Security Council to make it more relevant to modern global political requirements.”

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