Papua New Guinea-Australia Comprehensive Strategic and Economic Partnership

Papua New Guinea-Australia Comprehensive Strategic and Economic Partnership

NBC News, PNG

Prime Minister James Marape and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Wednesday signed the Papua New Guinea-Australia Comprehensive Strategic and Economic Partnership (CSEP) during a Virtual Summit in Port Moresby and Canberra.

“I am delighted to be able to sign this historical and significant document today with Prime Minister Morrison as it reflects the deep, enduring and maturing relationship between our two nations and provides the foundations for a deepening of cooperation in the years to come”, Prime Minister Marape said.

The CSEP provides the strategic context to elevate and advance relations between both countries over the next ten years and beyond and encompasses commitments around six core pillars:

(1) Strong Democracies for a Stable Future;

(2) Close Friends, Enduring Ties;

(3) Economic Partnership for Prosperity;

(4) Strategic Cooperation for Security and Stability;

(5) Social and Human Development and

(6) Near Neighbours, Global Partners.

Prime Minister Marape said “each of these pillars embody the mutual values and beliefs that our two nations share”.

To ensure practical outcomes to this enhanced arrangement, the CSEP will be guided by a detailed Plan of Action that will operationalize the aspirations and goals of Papua New Guinea.

CSEP is the fifth such arrangement Australia has with other nations. For PNG it adds value to the 1987 Joint Declaration of Principles and 2013 Joint Declaration for a New PNG-Australia Partnership and this CSEP, supersedes all previous arrangements we have with Australia and will now become the benchmark of how we relate with Australia into the future.

Prime Minister Marape said that, this is done within the framework of our ‘friends to all and enemies to none’ Foreign Policy Approach.

“I am particularly pleased that the agreement recognises our Government’s ambition to see 50 percent of donor programs dedicated to supporting improved, high-quality social and economic infrastructure consistent with our longer term goals”, Prime Minister Marape said.

During their discussions, Prime Minister Marape conveyed his sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Australian Government for their generous and continuous support funding of K1.7 million, medical supplies (shipment of 12,000 rapid test kits) and specialised Australian doctors to assist PNG in its fight against COVID-19.

“This support, at such a critical time, has further strengthened our bilateral partnership,” the Prime Minister said.

Both Leaders reaffirmed the significance of the bilateral relationship and committed to remain in close contact over the coming months as both countries continue to navigate the complexities and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also indicated that Papua New Guinea looks forward to accessing financial assistance from the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific which will complement and assist in the delivery of much needed quality infrastructure to support the nation’s economic growth and recovery.

Furthermore, he welcomed the Australian Government’s announcement with regards to the Solar Electrification project in the Markham Valley valued at more than K40 million and reaffirmation of Australia’s joint support with the United States of America, Japan and New Zealand for the Rural Electrification Program.

He also thanked Prime Minister Morrison for supporting priorities aimed at increasing the number and quality of Industry Trainers across all public and private Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) institutions including the conversion of the Asylum Seekers Processing Centre on Manus Island into a TVET facility.

“I particularly welcome the Australian Government’s commitment of more than K100 million to TVET training and education over a period of six years and whereby I witnessed the signing of the Statement of Intent on TVET in Papua New Guinea between Ministers Hawke and Kuman.”

In terms of Security Cooperation, Prime Minister Marape informed of the need for PNG officials to undertake domestic consultations on the redevelopment of the Lombrum Naval Base with the Manus Provincial Government and relevant State Agencies before progressing the matter with their Australian counterparts.

Apart from that, both Leaders were content with the current Defence and Police Cooperation arrangements and look forward to developing a new Defence Cooperation Program over the next three years, including the need for strengthening land and sea border security and surveillance.

For the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Prime Minister Marape acknowledged the Australian Government’s continued support to the Bougainville Peace Process with the recent delivery of ballot papers for the upcoming elections.

NBC News

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