PNG, SI look at increasing partnership

Papua New Guinea is looking at increasing economic partnership between PNG and the Solomon Islands.

Prime Minister James Marape on October 14th met with his Solomon Islands counterpart, Manasseh Damukana Sogavare, in Port Moresby.

Economic trade and investment was among areas of mutual interest both leaders discussed during their meet in Port Moresby yesterday.

Border Security, the Bougainville Referendum, labour mobility and employment opportunities and issues surrounding the Melanesian Spearhead Group were among those high on the agenda.

Prime Minister Marape said the Government of Papua New Guinea is looking forward to working with the government of Solomon Islands to build both countries’ bilateral relationships from strength to strength.

He said both countries are looking at how they can participate in each other’s economy, given there are also more PNG businesses in the Solomon Islands as well.

Major Papua New Guinea investments in the Solomon Islands include New Britain Palm Oil Limited, Lamana Group of Companies, Bank South Pacific, Credit Corporation and other companies that are based in the country and have branches in the Solomon Islands.

The Prime Minister revealed that figures in 2015 show that Papua New Guinea exported K34.35 million of goods and services and imported K14.57 million and had a trade surplus of K19.78 million.

While both countries share an interest in the Bougainville Referendum activities, the government of Solomon Islands has indicated that they are on standby to help deliver a successful referendum for the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Prime Minister Marape indicated to the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands that he plans to pay a visit to his country early next year.

Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands has also joined the China One Belt, One Road Initiative, adding to the number of Pacific island countries.

Prime Minister Marape said this gives the region a bigger voice when negotiating with China to protect the interest of the people and countries in the region, given China is a big economy that Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and other countries in the region can look at for market access to export local produce and products.

Sally Pokiton