18 Jul 2013

PNG's support of regional trade agreement unclear

2:43 pm on 18 July 2013

An MP representing New Zealand at the Pacific Islands Trade Ministers Meeting in Samoa says it's important for Papua New Guinea to discuss the benefits of a regional trade and economic development agreement.

The private secretary for Foreign Affairs, John Hayes, says New Zealand is committed to supporting increased trade, investment, and economic opportunities in the Pacific and therefore progress on the negotiation of the PACER Plus agreement will be a key topic.

PNG's minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry, Richard Maru, has told Radio New Zealand International, that the government has withdrawn from any future discussions on the trade agreement as it wasn't seen as beneficial.

But Mr Hayes says that doesn't appear to be PNG's official position, based on talks in the last 24 hours with a PNG representative in Samoa.

He says it's in PNG's interests to at least come to the table.

"The PACER Plus agreement helps to facilitate trade and I think it's really important for Papua New Guinea as a part of the region to be engaged in that process because of the size of its economy."

The New Zealand MP John Hayes.