PM O’Neill: PNG will not join PACER Plus

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has made it clear that Papua New Guinea will not sign up with Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) plus in its current form.

“We will not sign up to Pacer in its current form.

“It is not seen as being good for PNG trade as advised by our officials,” O’Neill said..

He said before meeting with the Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare who was in Port Moresby to persuade O’Neill to change PNG’s stance on PACER plus.

O’Neill and Sogavare met Wednesday and discussed several regional issues including the Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting, peace and security in the region, education and trade relations between the two countries.

Sogavare is on his last leg of meeting as the chair of the MSG before he hands over the reign to Papua New Guinea after elections in August.

PNG position on the Pacer Plus trade agreement has been made clear on several occasions by Minister for Commerce, Trade and Industry Richar Maru.

Maru has stated clearly in the past about PNG position on the Pacer Plus that any trade agreement with Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific Islands, that reduces employment, kill the manufacturing industry by removing tariffs and duty will not be acceptable in PNG.

He said as the Trade Minister he will not support the Pacer Plus agreement pushed by Australia and New Zealand.

The reason is simple. Last year 23,500 Grade 12 students set for examinations, but only 5000 found places in universities, technical and teachers colleges and 18,500 had to go back home.

The world must realise the single biggest problem that PNG has is the unemployment of its young population, "so any trade agreement we enter into as a country and a responsible government….it must be to grow the private sector, grow the manufacturing sectors and create employment opportunities".

Pacer Plus in its current form especially the push to move tariff and duty will kill our manufacturing sector,  Maru said.

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