The National, Monday, April 18, 2011
A EUROPEAN Union (EU) economic partnership agreement (EPA) is major boost for the Papua New Guinea fishing industry, Fisheries Minister Ben Semri said.
Semri said the agreement would benefit the country through direct foreign investment, employment and poverty alleviation.
The EPA between the two parties was signed in 2009.
The agreement provided access for PNG canned tuna into European markets without any import duties.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration Don Polye thanked the EU delegation who supported PNG to secure global sourcing for fisheries exports into EU market.
He said the government was taking measures to ratify the deal quickly so it could implement the provisions in the agreement.
Polye said this at the first meeting of the trade committee under the EPA with EU representatives in Port Moresby last Friday.
Polye said local canned tuna could be found on European markets at a competitive price because it enjoyed no import duty.
He encouraged other Pacific Islands to sign EPAs with EU to enjoy similar benefits.
Polye encouraged local fishermen and women to embrace fishing as the agreement had added value to fisheries.
Semri thanked the European countries that voted 80% in favour of allowing direct export of PNG canned tuna to European shores.
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Thompson said both parties agreed with the EPA PNG could inspire other Pacific nations to join the agreement.
“The EU remains committed not only to supporting PNG in implementing the agreement, but to strengthen it further by deepening its coverage – to include provisions on development, services, investment and sustainable management of fishery resources – and widening its membership to other Pacific Island Countries,” Thompson said.
Polye said PNG could become the tuna capital of the world should all go well in the agreement.
He said that the EPA added value to PNG’s aspirations which other Pacific island counties could benefit from as well.
“To make PNG the tuna capital, we must grasp the opportunity available and take ownership of the development,” Polye said.
He stressed the EPA would promote other spin-off businesses outside the fisheries industry.
“Most important of all is the engagement of women and youth in this business, women and children being significant component of our population,” Polye said,
Semri said: “The beauty of it is that huge revenue associated with the tuna market where no duty or taxes will be charged on every tonne of tuna lands on EU market”.
“Not only our tuna is very competitive in the EU markets and that will greatly benefit our economy,” he added.
Meanwhile, the two-day African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) review seminar meeting will start at Lamana Hotel today.
The EPA between EU and ACP countries is aimed at promoting trade between the two groups through trade development, sustainable growth and poverty reduction.
EPA set out to help ACP countries integrate into the world economy and share in the opportunities offered by globalisation.