Manufacturers Council calls for fair trading with partners

The Manufactures Council of PNG has maintained its support to Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru for addressing the unfair trade practices by the Melanesian Spearhead Group partners.

Council Chief Executive Officer, Chey Scovell told Loop PNG today that “having lived up to the terms of the Agreement, our members, local manufacturers have been at continuous disadvantage by our MSG counterparts not implementing the Agreement in accordance to the Agreement.”

Scovell was responding to Fiji’s ban on the import of Ox & Palm into their country.  

“My members acknowledge that Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are relatively small markets, indeed combined that are only a single province in PNG, however size isn’t the issue, its fair trading. 

“Each of our countries signed and ratified a trade agreement offering preferential market access, and the notion of the agreement was to increase trade amongst ourselves,” he said. 

Scovell said since signing the agreement over a decade ago, none of this parties have allowed our products market entry as per the agreement.  

“Minister Maru has recent taken a hard line against Fiji, however, the press and others seem to have forgotten his decree a few years back when we hosted the MSG trade ministers meeting at Laguna Hotel, at the time Fiji was protesting about Vanuatu not allowing Fiji poultry products into Vanuatu.  

“At the time, Minister Maru said enough was enough, each country had to trade under the terms of the Agreement and in goodwill.  

“What has happened, nothing?  For our mind everyone has had fair warning.”

He said a ban isn’t in the interest of anyone, and neither is this three countries continuing to discriminate against PNGMADE products.  

He added that the irony was that each of our countries are struggling to compete against imports from the Asian countries which have very low cost business environments while Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji make it easier for the Asian goods to enter their countries then our PNGMADE goods and that is ridiculous.  

Scovell told Loop PNG that the PNG Manufacturers are looking forward to having reciprocal trading rights with all signatories.

“If we don’t have that why bother with an extension of the Agreement?”

Meanwhile, the government had given Fiji two weeks to lift the ban on the import of Ox & Palm into Fiji.

Maru said failure by Fiji to lift the ban might lead to some of the Fiji products imported to the country being shelved.

He added that the National Agriculture Quarantine & Inspection Authority (NAQIA) of Papua New Guinea had advised him that as far as the Authority is concerned, Ox & Palm does not possess any bio-security risk to Fiji as claimed by Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) and its Trade Minister.

He said NAQIA had revealed that Fiji does not have in place an established biosecurity pathway (or import protocol) for PNG’s Ox & Palm and that there is no real biosecurity threat to Fiji.

Maru stressed that the advice from NAQIA has now confirmed that Fiji’s true reason for not allowing Ox & Palm into Fiji is not because of bio-security reasons but using bio-security as a cover to hide the real reason, which is the fear that the entry of Ox & Palm into Fiji has the potential to wipe off their corned beef industry “Island beef” brand which has failed miserable to penetrate the PNG market because it does not match the taste of the popular PNG Ox & Palm.

“This is protection at its worst by Fiji while aggressively taking advantage of the bigger PNG market by flooding its products to PNG   under its trade preferences under the MSG Trade Agreement.”

Freddy Mou