Papua New Guinea, New Zealand Agree on More Regular Consultations

 Tuesday 14 May 2024

Papua New Guinea Officials (right)  led by Prime Minister, Hon. James Marape, and New Zealand Officials (left),  headed by NZ Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Winston Peters,  during the Bilateral Meeting on Monday 13 May  2024, in Port Moresby.

Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Justin Tkatchenko  and New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Winston Peters agree to more regular consultations at the Ministerial level.

Following their bilateral meeting on Monday 13 May, Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Justin Tkatchenko  and New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Winston Peters,  agreed on a  way forward to progressing  cooperative arrangements  to a structured annual meetings and Consultations at the Ministerial level.

This is in addition to the annual Foreign Affairs Secretary Meeting, usually referred to as High Level Consultations.

This would further improve and enhance cooperation in the areas of business, trade, investment, public service cooperation, education, agriculture, energy in the geothermal space and labour mobility, under the Recognized Seasonal Employer(RSE) Program, between both countries.

Minister Tkatchenko in his remarks at a joint press conference , expressed that the Marape-Rosso Government was happy to work closer in partnership with the new Government of New Zealand going forward.

“We will partner with this government going forward for the benefit of both our countries, and future outcomes and deliverables.

“We must have more consultations at the Ministerial level on an annual basis, to regularly consolidate what we know, for our collaborations, and to ensure we have the intended outcomes for the benefit of Papua New Guinea and New Zealand,” Minister Tkatchenko said.

He added that regular ministerial consultation will ensure that arrangements agreed upon are actually implemented.

Minister Tkatchenko noted discussions on the need to review the PNG-New Zealand Statement of Partnership, which covers the broad spectrum of initiatives and program collaborations in areas of mutual interest.

“The PNG-NZ SOP signed in 2021 was a significant milestone in relations, in providing the framework for both countries to cooperate in delivering identified priorities,” Minister Tkatchenko said.

Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Peters whilst in agreement with Minister Tkatchenko added that the objective of any long-term programme is that “everybody is a winner” from the perspective of individual Pacific Island nations, including New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

“We’ve covered a lot of areas today we’ve got to work on in the future, that’s for a fact,” Hon. Peters said.

“We work towards contributing, and New Zealand’s commitments are about supporting Papua New Guinea to achieve its development priorities.

 “We have committed to working closely with Papua New Guinea and other Pacific partners to address the shared issues within the region, including basic climate change, security, and economic resilience.

And what we learn separately or together, we can help each other with across the board,” Hon. Peters said.

Minister Tkatchenko also acknowledged Defence engagements, which he expressed was a key strength of PNG-New Zealand relations.

“PNG appreciates the valued training it received over the years from the exchange postings and trainings.

“I also acknowledge and thank New Zealand for funding the establishment of the Kumul Leadership Centre at Murray Barracks. Thus further builds on ongoing cooperation between the two(2) defence forces.”

“We look forward to further strengthening our Defence Cooperation now, as well as our trade and investment.

Minister Tkatchenko in relation to Trade and Investment added that discussions also detailed a path to better trade relationships, to strengthen and pave the way forward to an agreement beneficial to both countries.
This includes the possibility of direct flights between New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

“Nearly 80 percent of our people live in the rural areas.

Papua New Guinea is a food bowl of the Pacific, so we would like to expand that and meet the criteria that New Zealand have, so we can put more of our products into their markets.

“This is building on from the recent and much appreciated entry into the New Zealand market of our very own Lae Taro.”

Conversations at the bilateral meetings also highlighted the success  of the Recognized Seasonal Employer(RSE) Program, in economic growth especially in the Hawkes Bay Region, New Zealand, and improvement in terms of the development and human welfare of personnel engaged.

“We will work together on this to increase the number of Papua New Guineans going to New Zealand. We also intend to assist recruit specialized RSE liaison officers and have them based in our PNG High Commission in New Zealand.

“This will help us assist and guide New Zealand through better processes for the benefit of our citizens seeking these opportunities, and for entities through the Government who seek seasonal workers.”

Minister Tkatchenko also noted the electrification program, which was signed in 2018 between New Zealand, Australia, Japan, the United States, and Papua New Guinea to  ‘light up’ 70 percent of Papua New Guinea by 2030.

“There is a need to work on this together to progress this arrangement. There is need for consistency.”

Other areas of discussion included Education arrangement opportunities, aligned to Papua New Guinea’s objective of attaining development aspirations through capacity building  at the Tertiary level and at Technical training institutions.

New Zealand currently assists this through Education scholarships.

“At the end of the day, we treasure and are very appreciative of the partnership that we have with the New Zealand Government and its people.

“We have remained close since the period leading to Independence in 1975, through that period, and after that right through to date.

“New Zealand have shared some of our greatest challenges. And stood by Papua New Guinea through it all. For this we thank New Zealand,” Minister Tkatchenko said.

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