PNG hosts trade ministers for APEC meeting

PNG Minister for Trade Rimbink Pato. Picture: RNZ

PORT MORESBY, 25 MAY 2108 (AAP/PACIFIC SCOOP) – Papua New Guinea’s trade minister will fly the flag for free trade when he hosts counterparts from 20 Asia-Pacific countries.

Port Moresby is hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Corporation leaders summit in November, but trade ministers are getting together six months ahead of the meeting to lay some groundwork.

“We need to show how free trade will deliver benefits to our citizens,” PNG Trade Minister Rimbink Pato said in a speech to dignitaries at the University of Papua New Guinea.

“We have to take our people with us on this journey.”

Australian Assistant Trade Minister Mark Coulton is in Port Moresby for the talks.

He trumpeted Australia’s support for economic openness and a rules-based multilateral trading system, and said he was keen to discuss ways to boost women’s economic empowerment.

“Protectionism in the region would only take us all backwards,” New Zealand parliamentary under-secretary Fletcher Tabuteau said.

“As an exporting economy, New Zealand strongly supports free trade and the rules-based trading system which has led to greater prosperity for our country and for the Asia Pacific region,” Fletcher Tabuteau said.

“This meeting is an opportunity to have New Zealand’s voice at the table and make our views clear on these important issues.

“The Government’s Trade for All Agenda recognises that trade must benefit everyone. I will discuss with APEC partners how we can work together to pursue trade and economic growth that is more progressive and inclusive,” Tabuteau said.

In the margins of the APEC meeting, Tabuteau will meet with some of his counterparts to discuss wider trade and economic issues.

APEC includes 14 of New Zealand’s top 20 export markets and covers 71 per cent of New Zealand’s total goods and services trade.

APEC covers Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong China, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russian Federation, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.