The National,Monday16 January 2012
By BOSORINA ROBBY
MINISTER for Commerce and Industry Charles Abel announced last Friday a cabinet approval to elevate the trade division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to be responsible for the development and implementation of a trade policy.
He said the policy submission also looked into emphasising the importance of trade, the need to complete the long overdue country trade policy and the clarification of government structure for trade promotion and policy delivery.
The trade division would remain within DFAT.
This committee has been tasked to complete the trade policy within six months.
It would be chaired by the deputy Secretary of Trade while members would be secretaries from other departments.
It would be primarily responsible for trade policy development and implementation of trade policy reforms and negotiations.
“Since Independence, PNG has not had a trade policy and all the agencies involving in trading of resources have operated on an ad hoc basis,” Abel said.
“Last year, I cancelled a regional workshop set up to gauge stakeholder views for a draft policy to be written because trade was not a recognisable division between departments.
“But now that the NEC has approved a policy submission that emphasised the importance of trade, this policy can now begin,” he said.
“The government recognises the importance of trade in the context of the global village and as the foundation of our foreign relations because of our vast resources.”
“It is critical that we recognise this in our government structure and resource allocation.
“We must achieve maximum political and financial mileage for our exports … we need to promote the development of goods from our resources onshore to add value and promote economic spinoffs,” he said.
Abel said the trade negations must be conducted via a clearly articulated policy and by an “empowered” trade division.
Abel also announced the shift of one division within his department to the trade division.
This is the international business division responsible for promoting PNG at the international arena by participating in expositions.
Abel said they were currently preparing for the mini-expo in South Korea scheduled this year, while the last big expo was held in Shanghai, China last year.
He said matters of showcasing PNG internationally should be the job of the trade division and not the Commerce and Industry.
“I am only responsible for any commercial relations domestically or abroad while the trade division was in charge for all international bilateral relationships and trade negotiations,” Abel said.
“We are doing this because we want to see a coordinated effort in ensuring PNG gets the best out of its resources.
“We want good terms and assistance to development our tradable resources for the best benefits,” Abel said.