PNG seeks renewal of agreement with PH tuna firm

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/10 September) — The government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is pushing for the renewal of an investment agreement it had signed with a tuna fishing and manufacturing company based in this city as it moves to draw more major investments into its thriving tuna industry.

Job Pomat, chair of PNG’s National Fisheries Board, said they are now reviewing its standing “state agreement” with homegrown firm RD Corporation in a bid to extend their trade and investment arrangements beyond its scheduled expiration in two years.

“I want to assure you that my government will review the agreement with a view to extend it after 2015,” he said at the 15th National Tuna Congress here.

Pomat, who represented PNG Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Mao Zeming in the gathering, said RD Corporation signed the deal with the PNG government in 1995 as a result of the signing of the Philippines-Papua New Guinea Fisheries Bilateral Cooperation.

He commended the company, which is owned by local fishing magnate Rodrigo Rivera Sr., “for taking the bold step to invest in PNG” after signing the state agreement.

After initially opening business in PNG’s Siar and Vidar districts, RD Corporation so far diversified its business in tuna fishing, tuna canning, fish meal processing, can making, shipyard and dry-dock, cold storage, value-added fresh seafoods, wharf and stevedoring, building and construction and real estate.

Overall, the company has 38 diversified business units and operations in this city and other parts of the country, Indonesia and Australia.

On the review of the state agreement, Pomat said there are some outstanding issues that both sides need to comply with to ensure that the deal and its obligations are fully implemented.

“Both sides need to carefully assess these outstanding issues, and come up with a practical timetable and commitment to effectively address them,” he said without further elaborating.

In the meantime, Pomat said the PNG government will continue with its partnership with the company, which he described as “now a major player in the tuna industry in PNG.”

He said they are closely working with RD Corporation and other private entities for the development of the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone, which is considered one of the major economic impact projects in PNG.

The project is being spearheaded by the PNG’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which is set to negotiate with China’s Export Import Bank to seek an additional loan of k700 million or roughly US$ 270.9 million, on top of the US$ 95 million soft loan that was earmarked for its initial phase.

“We have re-scoped the project from just a marine landing and processing hub to a special economic zone to include processing and export of other products like agricultural commodities, timber and minerals,” he said.

Pomat added that the revised project, which is within the operational area of RD Corporation, will be dubbed Madang Industrial Zone. (MindaNews)