PM meets with President Yoon

Prime Minister James Marape had fruitful discussions with the President of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol, on the margins of the inaugural Korea-Pacific Islands Summit on May 28, in Seoul.

The Prime Minister was accompanied by the Minister for International Trade and Investment, Richard Maru, Vice Minister for Finance and Implementation, John Boito, and Vice Minister for Treasury, Solen Loifa.

From the Korean party, President Yoon came to the meeting with Prime Minister of Korea, Duck-Soo Han, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Park Jin.

At the commencement of the bilateral meeting, Prime Minister Marape personally gave recognition to the Republic of Korea as one of Papua New Guinea’s biggest trading partners.

He said Korea and Papua New Guinea has had a healthy bilateral relation since 1976 and the President re-echoed our own thoughts on wanting to ramp up this existing relation.

“More importantly, our focus was on ramping up is on our trade relations with South Korea,” Prime Minister Marape said.

“We invited them to bring in their business expertise, especially in the space of manufacturing, into our country’s focus of moving into manufacturing in downstream processing, in our Special Economic Zones.”

Prime Minister Marape said current volume of trade between both countries is at USD1.8 Billion.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that the current increase in the trade relations with Korea is in our favour and encouraged Korea for more presence of their businesses in PNG and for them to buy our products as we make our move from exporting raw products to exporting finished products.

He also indicated to President Yoon that Papua New Guinea will sign a Visa Waiver Arrangement for diplomats and officials with the Republic of Korea’s Minister for Foreign Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 29.

Prime Minister Marape went on to make a commitment of looking into Visa on arrival arrangements as well for both countries.

“Korea is not a lightweight and I commend them for their success story, from being a country known for poverty to being a rising economic power house in the world,” he said.

“I have indicated to His Excellency Yoon Suk Yeol that Papua New Guinea will give support to Korea to host the 2030 World Trade Exposition in Busan.

“We also commended Korea’s sensitivity to sea level rise and climate change, and their commitment to using technology and innovation as a means to address the protection of seas and environment.

“That complements Papua New Guinea’s own focus on using of technology for land reclamation and protecting our small island communities and small island states.”

The Prime Minister made a special commendation of the current South Korean Leadership, who he believes are in the right mindset, for complementing South Pacific Island countries view that sea level rise is caused by climate change.

Prime Minister Marape said in that respect, he also indicated for their focus on the Pacific, they must work with the Pacific Island Forum.

However, he said Papua New Guinea must not be viewed as a small island state because our land mass and population is bigger than all other island states. 

The Prime Minister said whilst we are a Pacific Island country, we are not a small Island state but a big island nation.

He said we encourage at the highest, the President, his Prime Minister and Foreign Minister that they must relate with Papua New Guinea through a separate, specific bilateral framework that will embrace government to government, people to people, business to business relations as we fine tune our relations going into the future.

Prime Minister Marape also asked President Yoon to look at reopening the KOICA Office in Port Moresby. The President indicated that he will get his officials to look into that.

Other matters discussed were the Korean Exim Banks commitment to fund the Wewak and Vanimo Wharf and the Exim Banks Soft-Lending facilities that Papua New Guinea can open a credit line to access.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Prime Minister Marape extended an official invitation for President Yoon to visit Papua New Guinea at a time that is mutually convenient.

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