Papua New Guinea says there is a looming trade tussle with Fiji over its continued blocking of PNG products entering the country.
PNG’s Minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry, Richard Maru, said today that Fiji has been persistently refusing to allow imports such as Ox & Palm, Trukai Rice and other PNG products into Fiji for over a decade.
“Fiji’s continued disrespect for the trading relationship with Papua New Guinea, and the arrogance that has been demonstrated over many years, leaves us with no other option but to take retaliatory action against our Melanesian brothers,” Minister Maru said.
“We have allowed Fiji to have a trade surplus with Papua New Guinea for a long time and trade volumes are increasing,” he added.
However, he said there have been many occasions for Fiji to cooperate and provide satisfactory explanation but Fiji has not done so, compelling PNG to take action.
Following Minister Maru’s talks with PNG’s Agriculture Minister, Tommy Tomscoll, PNG will not allow the entry of Fiji poultry products into PNG.
Minister Maru said Fiji’s refusal of allowing PNG products into Fiji also ignores the Melanesian Free Trade Agreement that Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) countries concluded upon this year.
“MSG countries have committed to trade freely and this behaviour by Fiji against other members is unacceptable,” Maru said.
He added that a letter written to Fiji’s Minister responsible for Tourism, Trade and Industry three months ago asking for clarification on the reasons for restricting PNG goods entry into Fiji, has received no response.
He said if countries like Australia and Singapore with higher biosecurity measures can allow the entry of PNG’s tinned product Ox & Palm, Minister Maru cannot see why Fiji has an issue with it.
PNG has given Fiji 14 days to respond favourably, before resorting to further action.