SUVA, (FIJI SUN) – Fijian Trade Minister Faiyaz Koya is not buying into a new war of words instigated by his Papua New Guinea counterpart, Richard Maru.
Last week Koya reacted calmly to Maru’s threats to end trade with Fiji, saying:
The Government will not circumvent our biosecurity laws nor will they bend them, Fiji and Papua New Guinea have the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) agreement which has the facilitation aspect with respect to biosecurity. This is where the matter should be addressed.
Koya, the Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Land and Mineral Resources, was responding to comments made by Maru as the Papua New Guinea Minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry.
No one in Government here is saying it. But it should also be noted that Maru’s threats in the Papua New Guinea news media come as Papua New Guinea politicians position themselves for their coming general elections.
The Papua New Guinea Post-Courier was amongst Port Moresby news media reporting that during a press conference held in Port Moresby on Thursday, Maru said PNG was putting its foot down,
He said this was as Fiji has failed over the last 15 years but particularly in the last five months, to justify their continued refusal to allow PNG goods into their markets.
He called Fiji a “dishonorable country” which has failed to honour trade agreements the two countries signed under the Melanesian Spearhead Group trade agreement in 1998.
Maru said: “PNG must now take very aggressive trade sanctions against Fiji. One of the main reasons is the prolonged response after it sent a delegation to PNG to conduct a five month import risk assessment on Ox and Palm, rice and biscuits.”
Maru said while Fiji had agreed to accept PNG’s bully beef-Ox-Palm, Trukai Rice and biscuits, this was only for household quantities. This, he said, meant travellers including Papua New Guineans could carry just a little quantity in their bags and not commercial volumes, which PNG was pushing for.
“Now this is a huge insult to PNG. We were not interested in this risk assessment because we do not want to bring only household quantities, we want to export large volumes of our products,” he said.
Koya said: “We will not circumvent our biosecurity law nor we bend it.
“But having said that at the same time we have the MSG trade agreement framework. There is a facilitation for Biosecurity. All the necessary rules and regulations in it will be followed.
“We have facilitated with respect to personal consumption /quantities being brought in. If they is any enquiry with respect to commercial quantity it will be dealt with in the proper fashion.
“Currently as it stands to my knowledge there is no commercial quantity imported into Fiji that really needs to be exercised.
“If and when there is, then facilitation will be done as usual. In true Melanesian spirit we will facilitate.
“So I really don’t know where the beef is.”
Maru had threatened that PNG would not sign the new MSG trade agreement with member countries (MSGTA3) and would furthermore, not submit to any agreement that Fiji is a part of.
Maru said: “I have submitted a proposal for the government to make tough decisions against Fiji and I expect these decisions will be made in the coming days.”
Maru argued contrary to the bio-security risks Fiji had been citing for the entry of PNG goods into Fiji, the main reason was (Fiji) was determined to protect its local industries.