Papua New Guinea’s Trade Minister, Richard Maru has returned, a happy man, from his trip to the United Kingdom to attend the Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting.
At the meeting, PNG managed to secure assurance from the UK government, that it’s exit from the European Union, also known as BREXIT, will not affect trade relations between the two countries.
At the moment, PNG enjoys a surplus in trade with the UK.
What was concerning for PNG was the implications of BREXIT on PNG’s duty free market access for its canned tuna and crude oil. The market access comes under the European Union Economic Partnership Agreement.
This duty free market access, underpins PNG’s fisheries industries while New Britain Palm Oil has an oil refinery in Liverpool, where crude oil is refined for other markets.
These concerns were put to rest by Lord Price, the UK Minister for Trade & Investments when he met with Minister Maru.
The UK has agreed to sign a bilateral agreement with PNG that will maintain the duty free market access with for canned tuna and crude oil.
On top of that, exiting form the EU means, the UK can now make changes to some of those trade conditions and one is adding more trade goods to the list.
For PNG, top priority for Minister Maru is cocoa and coffee and the trip also saw strong strides made in securing UK investment into the cocoa industry in PNG.
Minister Maru met with representatives of Beans& Co, a global cocoa production company, whom are seriously considering PNG, specifically East Sepik Province, as an investment destination.
Currently there is talk of securing a US$ 70 million loan from the UK EXIM bank to fund this investment. If it goes ahead, there are plans to establish a 2,500 hectares of cocoa plantation in the Sepik Special Economic Zone, and a large scale cocoa seedling nursery for the plantation and the two Sepik provinces.
Details of this loan are not available to the public as yet.