Minister for National Planning and Monitoring, Richard Maru, said this in his current visit to New Zealand.
Maru, who is leading a delegation in New Zealand, said these are areas that New Zealand has a comparative advantage over and can enhance the business-to-business relations between both countries.
He said New Zealand is a first world nation thriving on the non-extractive industry, which is the backbone of its economy that PNG has a lot to learn from.
On 1 May 2018, Minister Maru and the PNG Delegation met with New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor, the Ministry of Primary Industry, and Assistant Vice Chancellor Pasifika of the Victoria University, Luamanuvao Winnie Laban.
Discussion covered New Zealand’s aid program to PNG, the livestock sector, specifically the milk and poultry industries, biosecurity standards, upscaling tourism approaches and potentials, higher education collaborations, and trade and investment prospects.
Outcomes of discussions include:
- The process of finalising PNG’s Medium Term Development Plan 3 (2018-2018), and with the current PNG-New Zealand Joint Commitment for Development (JCfD) coming to an end, the need to realign the New Zealand Aid Program is timely, more so necessary in order to get the best value of support that is strategically building on the comparative strengths of New Zealand. This is a key task for both Governments to the lead up to the High Level Bilateral Consultation in the later part of 2018.
- Minister Maru stressed the importance of higher education engagements and establishing sister universities between both countries as an important way forward. Minister Winston expressed that various New Zealand universities are having a pacific focus hence, should be explored further for this arrangement. Equally important is ensuring that education standards are recognized and upscaled is a critical part of the process.
- Victoria University reassured Minister Maru and his delegation that there is potential to expand the current disciplines to PNG’s priorities, offer world standard quality education, and innovatively engage in the university’s approach to its school of government, establishing enterprises and the economics of disaster resilience.
- Minister Maru expressed gratefulness on New Zealand’s scholarship program to PNG, which is bringing through positive results. An expanded approach is considered to specialise scholarships in Post Graduate studies, and with a potential focus on the academia that need to up skill to the required standards. It is further encouraged for New Zealand professors and lecturers to teach in in-line positions at universities of PNG. This will be further consulted during the formulation of the new JCfD process.
- An MOU that was signed in 2013 by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the Victoria University was stalled due to management changes from the PNG side. This was agreed to be renewed and a future visit by the Victoria University to PNG will be scheduled in 2018 to further the commitments and implementation arrangements.
- Minister Maru emphasised that PNG is keen to attract and encourage New Zealand Foreign Direct Investment in PNG, especially in the areas of agriculture, tourism and biosecurity. These aspects are areas that New Zealand is seen to have a comparative advantage over and more so, enhance the business-to-business relations between both countries. This was welcomed by Minister Winston to open up conversation with relevant New Zealand agencies to take the prospects forward.
- Efforts to upscale the tourism industry, particularly to open up direct flights from PNG to and from Auckland, was discussed by both Ministers. A feasibility study on the viability and profitability of the potential direct flights should be launched soon to put up a case to Air New Zealand for PNG.
- With New Zealand having some of the highest standards in biosecurity, Minister Maru expressed PNG’s interests to mirror New Zealand’s standards, approach and building PNG’s capacities in improving its own biosecurity standards for the agriculture sector and the milk and poultry industries.
- In the mid-90s, New Zealand understood the importance of strong biosecurity to strengthen its already very strong export market. PNG currently is in the same position as we look to ensure food security and similar export opportunities become available to the people of PNG.
- With New Zealand’s support, this should in turn bring confidence to its private sector to invest in PNG. NZ’s Minister O’Connor recognized PNG’s undertakings in this critical area hence, is open to share New Zealand’s experiences through various models it is using.
- Both Ministers Maru and O’Connor agreed to the potential of utilising New Zealand’s aid program as a critical area of focus into the future and are looking forward to a further engagement when Minister O’Connor visits PNG for APEC meetings at the end of May 2018.
Currently, New Zealand Government is stepping up its efforts in the Pacific Region and is looking ahead for more open dialogue to ensure that mutual economic benefits are achieved in the region.
Minister Maru indicated that PNG looks forward to further bilateral discussions with New Zealand on the trade aspects of cooperation.
The delegation will be in NZ from 30-April to 4-May.
(Richard Maru filepic)