New PNG envoy looks to step up trade with NZ


The New Zealand Papua New Guinea Business Council held a luncheon to welcome the new PNG High Commissioner to New Zealand, Brigadier General Francis Agwi in Auckland recently.<!--more-->

<a href=""><img class="alignleft size-full wp-image-7084" src="" alt="rsz_nzpng_council_lunch_for_he_agwi_11" width="134" height="104" /></a>NZ Ambassador for Economic Development in the Pacific Shane Jones attended the event along with Pacific Islands Trade &amp; Invest (PT&amp;I) NZ Trade Commissioner Michael Greenslade and other council members from the private, government and non-government sectors. He was introduced to the members by council Deputy Chairman Tamati Norman and Honourary Consul Dr Peter Goldsmith.

Mr Agwi acknowledged the council in bringing some of New Zealand’s best private sector organisations to PNG. His predecessor William Dihm, Secretary for Foreign Affairs in PNG, had credited the council as being the main vehicle in advancing New Zealand and PNG’s bilateral relations in economic and political co-operation particularly in the past 4-5 years. That was a profound vote of confidence in the council and Mr Agwi was keen to continue to be part of the council’s future success.

He said despite New Zealand’s small size and population compared to PNG there was a close relationship between the two countries. “I acknowledge with interest that although smaller in size and population, New Zealand is by far the closest of our small developed friendly nations, that also has probably the most advanced agriculturally based economy, which places it amongst some of the most advanced countries of the first world nations.”

He hoped that New Zealand would consider PNG’s abundant untapped potential in agriculture. “I strongly believe that PNG really does not need to look far beyond these shores to find models of real success in Aotearoa,” he said.

Despite the vibrant natural resources sector and unprecedented growth predicted in the next 10-20 years “PNG has a lot of challenges ahead, for its leader and its 7 million people.”

Responding to questions he said the priority for PNG was infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Although the land in PNG is highly fertile it is faced with mountainous geography and there were no roads to bring resources of the rural areas to market. Coffee grown in the highlands could not be brought out easily for sale and the coffee beans were left to fall on the ground, he said.

But the potential is great. Areas of interest for investors were in the fishing industry, investment and shipping. The issue of dual citizenship, where the council had been actively involved, was also in progress and could be dealt with before the end of the year, he said.

Figures from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZMFAT) showed PNG is one of New Zealand’s largest export markets in the Pacific with NZ$242 million of exports in 2012. New Zealand imported NZ$15 million (year ended December 2012) from PNG with coffee heading the list at NZ$7.4million followed by oil cake at NZ$4.3 million and legume flour, meal and powder NZ$1.1 million with sawn or chipped wood 6mm and over and cereal straw and husks cumulatively valued at over NZ$1 million. About 40 PNG workers come to New Zealand on the Recognised Seasonal Employers scheme (RSE).