BARNABAS ORERE PONDROS
RELATIONS between Papua New Guinea and China have risen to a higher level with the signing of five agreements worth millions of kina.
The agreements pave the way for China to assist PNG in social and economic development, including a significant agreement relating to the PNG LNG project.
The five agreements concluded after bilateral talks yesterday, between Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang and senior Government ministers led by Deputy Prime Minister Sir Puka Temu, are:
*Economic and technical cooperation, under which China will provide a grant aid of K11.74 million;
*The framework agreement on the provision of concession loans, under which the Export and Import Bank of China will provide the PNG Ministry of Finance and Treasury with concessional loans of up to K313 million;
*Letters of exchange on the International Convention Centre, which the Chinese have agreed to help PNG build;
*The PNG LNG heads of agreement; and
*A memorandum of understanding on local, social and economic development assistance.
The first three agreements were signed between China’s vice-minister for commerce Yi Xiaozhun and PNG’s Commerce and Industry Minister Gabriel Kapris.
The fourth agreement was signed between Esso Highlands Ltd and Unipec Asia Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec). (See story on Page 3)
The agreement on concession loans is tipped to be used by PNG to develop the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone and student accommodation at the University of Goroka.
The final agreement was signed between Lu Shu, president of Ramu Nickel Management Ltd, and PNG’s Mineral Resources Authority boss Kepas Wali and Madang Governor Sir Arnold Amet.
Specific details of the agreements were not disclosed.
Mr Li assured PNG that China would continue to ensure that the cordial relations were maintained.
He said the relationship between the two nations would continue to deliver tangible benefits to both sides, as well as contribute to the prosperity of the Asia Pacific region.
“The purpose of my visit is to further strengthen and promote the friendly cooperation and traditional friendship between our nations,” Mr Li said.
Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare agreed that “relations have been further strengthened and solidified through PNG’s continued adherence to the One China Policy”.
China is currently PNG’s sixth largest trading partner with a total trade volume of K898.4 million last year.
“Preliminary figures for 2008 indicate a favourable trade surplus in PNG’s favour,” Sir Michael affirmed.
Sir Michael said PNG was satisfied with the current level of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries and would continue to regard China as a vital market for its exports.