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Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

THE Fijian Government is working on a solution through processes on a continued trade dispute with Papua New Guinea. more…

by August 30, 2016 General

THE Fijian Government is working on a solution through processes on a continued trade dispute with Papua New Guinea.

This, as our Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) neighbours threatened to take their case to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The PNG Government had given Fiji until today to formally lift the trade ban on Ox & Palm Corned Beef and other products.

Failure to do so, the PNG Government said, would result in them invoking the dispute settlement process of the MSG Trade Agreement and the WTO dispute settlement process,

When approached for comment on the issue last night, Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism Faiyaz Koya said the issue had been raised and processes had been followed by the Fijian Government and it should be sorted out soon.

“We are doing something about it,” Mr Koya told this newspaper.

“We are involving our biosecurity and their biosecurity and at the moment it has been resolved like that,” he added.

Mr Koya had earlier maintained there were no bans on food items or imports from PNG blaming a lack of bilateral biosecurity pathways and low demand for the slump in trade of the food items.

“There are no unnecessary restrictions that have been placed on PNG imports. Obviously, this is a matter that would have been resolved a lot sooner if the competent authority in PNG – NAQIA (National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority) had gotten back to us on the risk assessments of PNG products, which was raised to them by the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF).”

Last week, PNG Minister for Trade Richard Maru said PNG imported beef from Australia and they had similar import pathways to Fiji.

“They are similar, therefore even without an established biosecurity pathway that Fiji is claiming, there is no real biosecurity threat to Fiji for Ox & Palm to be consumed in Fiji.”

Mr Maru said other countries such as Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, and New Zealand did not have established biosecurity pathways with PNG and yet had been allowing Ox & Palm into their countries in both household and commercial quantities.

“Given the advice from NAQIA and the manufacturer of Ox & Palm, I have concluded that Fiji does not have a credible cause to restrict PNG products mentioned based on any substantive biosecurity (animal, plant pest or disease) issue or risk and has been using biosecurity as an unnecessary barrier or an excuse to discourage any potential export of Ox & Palm to Fiji and to cover up the real reason for the restrictions of highly popular and competitive PNG products and brands.”

In terms of the way forward, Mr Maru proposed that before the end of August, Fiji must:

* Immediately provide a clear press release to announce that PNG goods including Ox & Palm are safe for Fiji market for commercial purposes and for personal consumption to rest all unnecessary restrictions by the Fijian Government on any credible PNG made goods; and

* Undertake voluntary import risk assessment on all other products in question such as the case may be on Trukai Rice and PNG-made biscuits in collaboration with NAQIA in PNG and the PNG manufacturers of those products entering Fiji in commercial qualities.