Australia plans to step up presence in the Pacific

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill meets with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill meets with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

AUSTRALIA will step up its presence as the big brother in the Pacific, says Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

He said this when addressing the APEC CEO’s Summit on board the cruise liner, Pacific Explorer, in Port Moresby on Saturday.

“No country gets rich selling things to itself, that is why APEC encourages trade,” he said.

“PNG is not just Australia’s closest neighbour, we see ourselves as family in the Pacific,” Morrison said.

“Australia is stepping up, we will step up and we are and will take our engagement in the Pacific to a new level.”

Morrison said conditions for growth in the region includes a responsible domestic and international management, market access for exports and tackling infrastructure constraints.

“Trade on things that matter to business – faster customer procedures, facilitating supply chain connectivity, promoting sustainable development, facilitating the digital economy and digital connectiveness.

“APEC must remain a very practical forum,” it has to be engaged in very practical measures and facilitating business and business environment that set the right conditions for business.

“While most of you understand the full benefits of trade, we are living in an age when leaders and business leaders must actively, proactively, prosecute the case for open markets. We are witnessing a rising tide of trade protectionism around the world.”

Morrison said the test for all of economies was to stand for the economic values and demonstrate that they lifted living standards and lifted hundreds and millions of people out of poverty.

“And to show all our people in our APEC economies, nations around the world, what happens when you are open and when you work in partnerships and you create jobs and create prosperity and a more stable and secure and peaceful region.

“When it comes to trade, Australia’s actions match our words, we have among the lowest tariffs in the world and we have a consistent record of negotiating free trade agreement with partners.

“Stay still long enough and our trade leaders will do a deal with you,” Morrison said.

The Asian Development Bank estimates that the Pacific region needs US$3.1 billion infrastructure development each year.

“To contribute to that, last week, the United States, Australia and Japan signed a memorandum of understanding to support trilateral cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

He said the MoU formalised the trilateral partnership for infrastructure investment in the Indo-Pacific which was announced in July.

He said under the MoU, the three countries would work together to fund its infrastructure projects and mobilise private-sector investment to drive future economic growth, job creation, and poverty reduction.

“We want to see infrastructure investment that is transparent, non-discriminatory, is open and robust standard for long-term benefits that meet genuine needs and avoid unsustainable debts.

“It must be in the interest of the country in which you are seeking to invest, which will benefit their economy which will eventually benefit our entire region’s economy.

“A real-based system that respects the sovereignty, independence of every single country and commitment to regional security.”