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PNG expands European economic engagement

PAPUA New Guinea’s relationship with the European Union is growing from being predominantly based on development support to increased trade and investment engagement through business cooperation, according to the prime minister.

Peter O’Neill discussed the matter during a meeting with the European Union head of delegation to Papua New Guinea, ambassador Martin Dihm in Port Moresby.

Following the meeting, O’Neill said more PNG products were being sold in European countries than ever before, and European technical expertise and equipment was being deployed throughout the country’s resources sector.

“We expect to see this business interaction to continue to expand as our government-to-government engagement with European countries creates greater opportunities,” he added.

“Papua New Guinea and the European Union have a bilateral trade agreement that enables free access products to the European market. This access to Europe is particularly beneficial for Papua New Guinea’s export of palm oil products as well as fisheries products.”

The prime minister also expressed his appreciation for ongoing development support that the European Union has given Papua New Guinea over recent decades.

“The European Union is Papua New Guinea’s second largest development partner,” O’Neill said.

“Through this partnership Papua New Guinea has made a significant contribution to infrastructure expansion, skills and capacity development in rural areas, and the strengthening of the healthcare sector.

“Cooperation under the 10th European Union Development Fund has also facilitated rehabilitation of cocoa and coffee projects in Bougainville and East New Britain Province.”

In a statement, Dihm said relations between the European Union and Papua New Guinea had developed since the opening of the delegation in Port Moresby in 1977.

“Whereas in the past the EU and PNG had a traditional donor-recipient relationship this has evolved more and more to become a full partnership in the areas of development cooperation, political cooperation and, not least, trade and investment,” he added.

“PNG and the EU have concluded a bilateral trade agreement, the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement.

“It offers free access for all products from PNG to the EU, the world’s largest trading bloc.”

Dihm said the European Union provided Papua New Guinea with technical assistance, infrastructure, training and capacity building particularly in the areas of rural development, basic education, good governance, trade, environment and health.

“It is my aim as the ambassador and head of delegation of the European Union to strengthen and deepen the long-standing relations between the European Union and Papua New Guinea,” he said.

“We will continue to work towards strengthening our development and political cooperation, as well as developing our trade relations under the Economic Partnership Agreement further.”