Jul 20, 2019 Last Updated 3:02 AM, Jul 19, 2019

As the global trade environment pushes further into uncertain territory, Fijian exporters are being urged to take advantage of what Papua New Guinea has to offer. 

In a presentation to local businesses this week, ANZ economist for Pacific Island countries Dr Kishti Sen said PNG could become the “China of the Pacific” as the next decade looks promising for the resource rich powerhouse.

And as uncertainty reins in the global markets, PNG looks likely provide a more stable destination for Fijian goods.   

“Several mega projects in the oil and gas sector and mining are expected to commence early next decade and the new Prime Minister is unlikely to change project timelines as he has indicated that he will work with the private sector to deliver strong outcomes for PNG,” Sen said. 

“Any changes to the country’s resource legislation won’t be implemented until 2025, meaning that current projects will be subject to existing laws which should minimise delays.”

Other sectors of the PNG economy are also forecast to rebound as the new government targets the strengthening of the country’s huge potential in the agriculture sector.

“Three assistant ministers responsible for coffee; cocoa, copra and palm oil; and livestock will be appointed this week to support the Minister for Agriculture.  The upshot is that we see [the PNG economy] rebounding this year as gas exports return to capacity following earthquake-induced disruptions in 2018 and maintaining the strong growth momentum into the 2020s,” said Sen. 

ANZ is forecasting Fiji’s economy to drop to below three percent over the next two years as government gradually tightens up on expenses.

This will coincide with a slowing global growth that is being affected by major developments such as the on-going trade and technology war between the United States and China, Britain’s proposed exit from the European Union, the United States’ sanctions against Iran as well as what is perceived to be an unpredictable scenario playing out between U.S and North Korea in terms of the latter’s nuclear aspirations. 

While this is expected to affect major trading partners and give Fiji some breathing space in which to recover before positioning itself for the next cycle of strong global growth, the country is still faced with balance of payment issues that is directly affecting the status of foreign reserves and liquidity in the banking system.   

Foreign reserves fell by F$260 million in 2018 as a result of efforts to finance the current account deficit and the resulting drop in liquidity has pushed up the cost of credit which is expected to put a brake on import demands, said Sen. 

We’re referendum-ready

  • Jul 20, 2019
  • Published in January

BOUGAINVILLEANS are to vote in June this year to decide whether to remain part of Papua New Guinea or to be independent.

The national government has tasked the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) to formulate and finalise the questions that will be on the ballot paper and the tentative dates for the referendum.

On the ground in Bougainville, there has been a lot of preparatory work including public awareness programmes and activities to help people understand the process.

Elected leaders in PNG’s three-tier government system on Bougainville have helped in awareness works in the three electorates of North, Central and South Bougainville. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has warned Bougainville to be wary of possible outside interference in the lead up to the referendum. He said such interferences could come in the form of misinformation.

The former prime minister of Ireland, Bertie Ahern has been appointed by the Joint Supervisory Body as chair of the BRC. During his term as prime minister, Ahern was involved in negotiations between parties to bring about peace in Northern Ireland.

He has since been involved in facilitating peace in other hot spots around the world including Ukraine, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey and the Basque Country.

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