Fiji biosecurity concerns over PNG products dismissed
As a deadline looms in the trade dispute between Papua New Guinea and Fiji, PNG's Chamber of Commerce dismisses Fiji's concerns over biosecurity arrangements between the two countries as ridiculous.
Fiji's concerns about biosecurity arrangements with Papua New Guinea have been dismissed as a 'ridiculous' ploy to keep out PNG products.
The claim from PNG's Chamber of Commerce comes as a deadline was reached in a trade dispute between the two countries.
PNG had given Fiji until the end of August to lift a ban on Ox & Palm corned beef or risk an import ban on Fiji products.
Fiji says the two countries have not established bilateral biosecurity arrangements for some goods.
PNG Chamber of Commerce President John Leahy told Jo O'Brien he doesn't understand that position
JOHN LEAHY: If it is the case in Fiji's talking about bio-security issues in relation to the products, well it's just rubbish. The products are exported at least to Australia amongst other places which have very high standards, and so we think that's just a ploy to keep the product out of the market and so we do support the Minister taking a tough stand on this, now whether a trade war is the right way to go is perhaps another issue but I actually think leaving it to the Minister to negotiate it is not a bad thing. We would encourage though the parties to get together, and I can see there seems to be some hiccups in that, just in the last day or so but we would encourage to get together and come up with a solution to this and hopefully it doesn't lead to an actual trade war but having said that, the Minister has a bit of a point in this case, Fiji has a long history of very restrictive in respect of distance and I think some other products coming from Papua New Guinea as and so, you know in the spirit of free trade, amongst the Melanesian countries, in particular you would think they would be receptive to trade from Papua New Guinea as Papua New Guinea has been generally, in relation from trade, from Fiji, other Melanesian countries and the rest of the world.
JO O'BRIEN: So why do you think Fiji has taken this position then?
JL: Oh look I'm going to be really boring and say you would have to ask them that, I don't really understand what their point is, I mean, I guess they are trying to protect their local industry to some extend, I think there is an expressed biosecurity issue but that's just plainly ridiculous. I mean Fiji, when we had the Pacific games last year, the athletes pulled what I thought a bit of a stunt in saying they wanted their own water imported from Fiji, in fact Port Moresby has amongst the highest quality domestic water supply you would get anywhere and of course there's nothing wrong with the local product but they seemed to think there was something wrong with it, again, it's just ridiculous and so it's all about trade and building markets for themselves, so yeah, we applaud the Minister taking a tough stand on this but let's hope it doesn't degenerate into an actual trade war but as a tactic or a strategy along the way, good luck to him.
JO: But do you think there's a likely hood of that, that there could be a trade war?
JL: Can I just say that looking from afar, sometimes these things seem more likely then they might locally, we tend to find common sense will prevail and Fiji will hopefully react in some point but having said that the MInister seems very determined in his positions.
JO: Are you concerned about the implications for businesses there in PNG if there is an escalation of the trade dispute.
JL: It would depend on just what form it took, I don't think we would suffer too much if it was just related to Fiji.
JO: So the trade between the two countries isn't so significant as to be a major worry.
JL: I don't believe so, I don't have the figures in front of me, and you know, there would particular factors be effective no doubt, they probably won't be happy me saying that but there would always be particular sectors that would be affected. It hasn't come to that yet, although I do understand that the deadline's today but I think they are endeavouring to talk and there's been an exchange of letters, and hopefully they get together and some Melanesian solution will be worked out.
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