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PNG Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru To attend Commonwealth meeting

Papua New Guinea Minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry,  Richard Maru, has accepted an invitation from the Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council to attend the inaugural Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting to be held on 9-10 March 2017 in London, in the United Kingdom (UK).

The Ministers Meeting will discuss areas where the Commonwealth can work together to strengthen trade and investment links between member countries and develop a policy agenda ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Minister Maru highlighted the significance of this meeting as Commonwealth countries are currently seeking to establish new trading relationships at a time of stagnating global trade and increasing protectionism sentiments. With a population of 2.3 billion, a combined economy of more than US$10 trillion and annual GDP growth in excess of 4%, the Commonwealth provides a unique platform for achieving these aims.

Minister Maru also alluded to the current uncertainty following the UK’s move to break away from the European Union (EU). This move dubbed “Brexit” is of significant concern to countries like PNG that enjoy preferential market access into the 28 member states of the European Union which currently includes the UK. PNG goods enter the EU under the Pacific ACP and European Union, Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA), which PNG is fully implementing. The recent increase in infrastructure investment and export in the fisheries sector is a result of this preferential market access, Minister Maru said.
The Minister said that he is, “working to secure a bilateral meeting with the UK’s Trade Minister, the Rt. Hon. Greg Hands, MP, to discuss a number of issues and in particular “Brexit” and its implications on PNG”.Minister Maru further stated that he is, “aware that the exit of the UK from the EU will not be immediate but take place after 2 years, however, this initial meeting with the British Trade Minister will provide an indication as to the possible arrangements that might need to be considered in the future to securing PNG’s interests with the UK”.
In terms of bilateral trade, over the last 10 years PNG had maintained a trade surplus with the UK. In 2015, PNG exports stood at K 288.51 million and imports at K 105.48 million, resulting in a trade surplus of K 183.03 million.

The UK mainly imports agricultural products from PNG such as palm oil, copra, coffee, cocoa, tea, vanilla and palm kernel oil. Other significant products include sawn timber and canned tuna. PNG mainly imports machinery and mechanical appliance, articles of iron or steel and printed books among others from the UK.
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