Parlt votes to continue UK trade


Parliament yesterday voted unanimously (97-0) to continue trading with the United Kingdom (UK) after it left the European Union (EU) earlier this year.
Parliament voted to waive section 117(3) of the Constitution that binds PNG to trade with UK under the EU – Pacific economic partnership agreement (EU-Pacific EPA).
Under agreement, PNG traded with UK through the EU.
Section 117(3) would be ratified for PNG to trade with UK under the UK and Pacific interim economic partnership agreement (UK-Pacific IEPA).
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Patrick Pruaitch said that PNG enjoyed a trade surplus of US$82.8 million (K289.5mil) and trade needed to continue despite the UK’s exit from EU.
Pruaitch said a continuance of trade with the UK was in part to “cushion the economic shock caused by the Covoid-19 pandemic”.
“PNG needs such an arrangement to allow continuation of trade through favourable market access preferences, promote business and investment confidence and strengthening its position as a trading nation.”
He said the UK was a significant trading partner with PNG taking its coffee, tea, copra, palm oil, coconut oil, palm kernel, cocoa beans, copper ore, concrete, rubber and timber.
“We import from UK, chemicals, pharmaceutical products, machinery and mechanical appliances among other goods that are important to the development of PNG,” Pruaitch said.
“So if Parliament ratifies this agreement (UK-Pacific IEPA), we will see our small and medium sized business continue to flourish with increase in employment, income and improvements in livelihood for our people.”
He said the agreement would help PNG’s technical agencies and exporters to broaden their knowledge, capacity and skills on best practices to meet sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, rules of origin, packaging and transportation requirement for exports.
Pruaitch said PNG High Commissioner to UK, Winnie Kiap, signed the agreement on behalf of the Government on March 14, 2019, in London.
“The signing was done in anticipation of the UK exiting the EU which has already happened and the transition phase will end on Dec 31,” he said.