26 Nov 2013

PNG builds on its international relationships

5:16 pm on 26 November 2013

Papua New Guinea's government is maintaining an open door policy to its foreign policy, according to an expert in international relations with PNG's National Research Institute.

While maintaining links with traditional partners like Australia, PNG's Peter O'Neill-led government is building stronger relationships with other countries considered non-traditional partners but also taking new approaches to partnerships.

The NRI's Adam Vai Delaney told Johnny Blades the government is keen to engage with the international community and is building on efforts by successive PNG governments.

ADAM VAI DELANEY: It's not necessarily going off on a tangent, so to speak, but I think the shift is changing a little bit more, rather than saying we used to be typically a non-aligned movement country. I think that's no longer part of the dialogue. The dialogue is now more towards the economic activity than, I guess, giving PNG some sort of leverage in terms of its ability to look for modern technology.

JOHNNY BLADES: With Indonesia, this government has been particularly adamant, it seems, that developing that border area is the best way to address some of those problems with West Papuans and the status of that region.

ADAM VAI DELANEY: Again, this is what I would consider futuristic thinking. It's along the lines of what we've been trying to pursue in the last 20 years when the focus of the border issue was predominantly on trying to address the refugee situation and the movement of the opium on the border. But that being said I think this government, and as I said the governments before the new government, have recognised there's a lot more to our relationship than the issues that tend to come up in the media. And Papua New Guinea, in fact, has an office just up there in Jayapura. We've had border centres put up in Vanimo. And that's part and parcel of the building blocks to say if we can address the trade issues the movement issues, and actually look at the relationship a little more broader, that way we engage Indonesia on the other side of the border with Papua New Guinea to look at things more progressively. And they fully understand that when you get provinces like the Sandaun province that's right in the neighbourhood, actually, engaging in trade activities and opening up, it makes more sense for bilateral discussion to talk a little bit broader about the socio-economic issues that can move that particular area forward. And I think the PNG government that Indonesia actually has got a lot of expertise from their side to be able to help.