Business high on the agenda as Australia, PNG deepen ties


<p style="text-align: justify;">Business leaders from both Australia and Papua New Guinea were among those who attended the 20th Australia-PNG Ministerial Forum held in Canberra on October 12. <!--more--></p>

[caption id="attachment_1860" align="alignright" width="250" caption="The Australia-Papua New Guinea Ministerial Forum - 12 October, 2011. Image credit: David Foote- Auspic"]<a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-1860 " title="AusPNGMinforum-David Foote" src="" alt="" width="250" height="150" /></a>[/caption]
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Forum especially acknowledged the participation of the Australia Papua New Guinea Business Council and the Business Council of Papua New Guinea.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The two countries have seen their business ties grow by leaps and bounds thanks to the boom in the resources sector driven by explosive growth in the Asian economies over the past several years. One of the most significant developments of the forum was Australia’s assistance in setting up a sovereign fund for PNG to better manage its revenue from natural resources exploitation for the benefit of future generations.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said a sovereign wealth fund would help PNG prevent the mistakes the country made with the proceeds of the last mining boom in the 1990s. In the past Pacific Island countries like Nauru have squandered their wealth acquired through natural resources exploitation because of poor investment decisions.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Speaking to Pacific Periscope, Caleb Jarvis, Pacific Islands Trade &amp; Invest’s Trade Commissioner based in Sydney said, “This was a particularly significant meeting with a new PNG PM, Peter O'Neil, looking to provide real leadership and gain Australian government support on significant issues such as the establishment Sovereign Welfare fund, commitment of both governments to sign the Economic Cooperation Treaty, repositioning of Australian aid effort toward education, health infrastructure and significantly on issues of law and justice.”</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">That Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd led the Australian delegation underscores the importance Australia accords to its growing ties with its sizably resource rich Pacific Islands neighbour.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Also, significantly, the two countries signed a MOU to introduce a reciprocal Work and Holiday visa arrangement. Australian and PNG travellers between the ages of 18 and 30 will now be able to work and holiday in the other country for up to 12 months. The annual limit, however, would be 100 such visas for both countries.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Both countries welcomed the Australian Government's recent announcement expanding the Seasonal Worker Pilot scheme, which runs out in its present form in June next year.</p>