The National, Monday August 5th, 2013
By GYNNIE KERO
TRADE and investment is the vehicle that we can use to transform our economies and trade our way out of aid dependency syndrome, Solomon Islands Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Clay Forau Solaoi says.
He said this before the members of the PNG trade mission to Honiara, Solomon Islands last week.
“Solomon Islands has always looked up to PNG as big brother who cares … through trade and investment, there is a sense of optimism about the future developing prospect of our countries.
“There are many business opportunities available in the MSG region in the context of the MSG framework … I encourage you to explore these opportunities.
“Solomon Islands is a small country compared to PNG … our status as least developing country makes our economy vulnerable to both internal and external shocks.
“Therefore we need to balance how we approach development.
“In that, we want to encourage growth of our SMEs … we also would like to encourage joint venture and franchise investments so that benefits are shared and investment security is sure.
“These are the areas I would encourage our business people to explore and engage on.”
In the past five years, PNG and Solomon Islands recorded strong economic growth compare to their neighbouring Pacific island countries.
Solaoi said Solomon Islands government has embarked on a number of reforms to create a viable environment for business investment.
“For example, we have enacted our foreign investment legislation that enables us to streamline the application and registration processes of companies and remove unnecessary impediments and red tape.
“We also reformed our tax regime to create a level playing field for businesses and create a healthy competition for all.
“In the area of trade facilitation, SI government is undertaking a review of customs bill to overhaul and modernise the Customs Act.
“This bill is expected to go before parliament soon.
“These and other reforms we undertook in other sectors, have greatly improved our standing in the world’s ease of doing business reports conducted by the World Bank.
“And no wonder we now have attracted a steady flow of investment into the country to date.”
He also highlighted that PNG has 43 investors already established and operating in SI and another 17 investors in the pipeline.”
“I would also like to encourage our local businesses to take advantage of the opportunity of this event and engage more with the visiting team and explore business opportunities in PNG and take advantage of the market of more than seven million people and with a rapidly growing economy.