INDONESIAN TRIP JUSTIFIED: BENEFITS OUTWEIGH COSTS
Prime Minister, James Marape has justified his Indonesian visit that benefits from the outcome of the bilateral meeting outweigh costs.
The visit stemmed from an invitation from Republic of Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo.
This is an important bilateral relationship within the immediate region that deserved equal attention and respect.
“Indonesia and Australia are our closest bilateral partners. While I have made important strides in the PNG-Australia relationship, I hope to strengthen the PNG-Indonesian relationship, and this visit is timely,” Prime Minister Marape said.
This visit is significant and unlike other bilateral visits. Apart from the usual discussions on traditional issues relating to border management and combating cross-border crime, drug smuggling, and terrorism, the talks will focus on other strategic opportunities for the two countries.
“The traditional issues are important but these are the traditional bilateral issues which are recurring in nature. There is a place for those, but it is vitally important that we use the opportunity to canvass other issues which are of strategic importance to us as a country”.
The visit is more strategic and will specifically focus on business, trade, and investment opportunities and capacity building of human resources, among other practical and meaningful outcomes to complement our development aspirations here in PNG.
“There is a lot to draw from our nearest neighbor in terms of enhancing our socio-economic development by providing market access for our natural products to enter the huge Indonesian market and it is now timely to exploit and pursue these opportunities with a renewed vigor and optimism to utilize the vast economic, trade and investment potential that currently exists between our two countries,” said Prime Minister Marape.
Papua New Guinea’s total exports to Indonesia was $55.3 million in 2019 but could have increased substantially if we had a market access arrangement in place. This is in particular is likely to increase the annual exports of Crude Petroleum ($35.3 million), Cocoa Beans ($9.98m), and Vanilla ($5.06 million).
With the current surge in fuel prices and to ensure competitiveness in PNG, I will also raise with President Widodo a proposed partnership with Indonesian Petroleum giant Pertamina for alternative sources of fuel.
“I wish to allay any recurring doubts as to the purpose of this visit. I remain confident that our practical discussions and the culmination of the various Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) that will be signed between President Widodo and myself will greatly complement PNG’s future socio-economic agenda and reap tangible outcomes in the immediate to long term,” said the Prime Minister.
The following MoUs will be concluded:
1. MoU on Electricity between R.I. PLN and PNG Power to supply temporarily electricity from Jayapura to Vanimo;
2. MoU to Open the Flight Route from Port Moresby / Mt Hagen /Jayapura and Port Moresby / Daru / Merauke; (both Airlines to arrange);
3. MoU on Customs;
4. MoU on Maritime Security with National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA);
5. Notification of Ratification for Basic Agreement on Border Arrangement between Republic of Indonesia (R.I) and PNG;
6. Grant Assistance by Indonesian State Own Enterprise (PT. Wika) for economic infrastructure support for Connect PNG Program;
7. Reviewing the MoU on PNG / Indonesian Chambers of Commerce and Business Council;
8. Formalizing PNG / Indonesia Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA); and
9. Reviewing of the Defense Cooperation Agreement.
A business delegation is part of the Prime Ministers entourage. A one-day business and investment seminar will be held parallel to the Prime Minister’s bilateral program. He will address the PNG/Indonesia Business and Investment Seminar where he will use the occasion to invite potential and reputable Indonesian investors to develop downstream processing facilities to add value to our vast natural resources for export to Indonesia, ASEAN, and other global markets.
“We have to add value to our vast natural resources onshore through downstream processing and it is therefore important that I invite potential Indonesian Investors in this area as it will allow PNG to produce finished products and sell them directly to the global markets. This will greatly complement Government’s policy initiatives to grow the rural economies in PNG, “said Prime Minister Marape.
Additionally, discussions will also be held with President Widodo to improve and create opportunities for economic infrastructure development such as electricity, roads, and ports along our common border corridors to enable the creation of Special Economic Zones, apart from the usual border security issues.
Indonesia has indicated its support of the Connect PNG Program through a Grant Aid Assistance Program from its State Own Enterprises. This assistance will cover infrastructure development that should also elevate the economic corridor development concept as a major drive towards restructuring the PNG economy into a broad-based sustainable economy.
Also, on the agenda for discussion between both Leaders will be PNG’s proposal for a Trilateral Arrangement to strengthen socio-economic development and security cooperation with Australia, Indonesia, and PNG on the common land and maritime borders to be known as AUSINDOPA. To progress this proposal, a Concept Paper will be developed by the PNG Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Apart from the Official Bilateral discussions, a half a day business and investment seminary has been organized. Further, separate meetings have been arranged between the Indonesian and PNG Business Communities with focused on business, trade, and investment opportunities, particularly in agriculture, fisheries, forestry, minerals, and oil and gas sectors.
“It is important that in the immediate future, PNG becomes a food bowl for the Asian region including for the provision of Halal-certified food for the Indonesian market,” said Prime Minister.
“I am bringing Papua New Guinean business people in the agriculture and logistics sector, to capitalize on the opportunities in marketing.”
The outcome of this Official Visit is expected the Conclusion of a Joint Communique at the Bogor Palace by both leaders detailing the above cooperative arrangements for immediate implementation through an Action Plan by the revived Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) and Senior Officials Meetings (SOMs).
Prime Minister Marape was accompanied by his wife Madam Rachael Marape, four (4) Ministers, one (1) Governor, Senior Government Officials, and a Business Delegation on this Official Visit.
The political leaders will engage in business and investment exchanges whilst the Government officials will progress sectoral issues with their Indonesian counterparts. The delegation returns to the country on 01 April 2022.