By PATRICK TALU
TRADE, Immigration and Foreign Affairs Minister Don Polye has signed a bilateral accord on Tuesday that would remove obstacles to Japanese investment in the Pacific country rich in natural resources such as liquefied natural gas and copper ore, The National reports.
Japanese foreign minister Takeaki Matsumoto and Polye endorsed the pact in Tokyo, with the two expressing hope that the accord would deepen bilateral economic ties.
In a meeting with Polye following a signing ceremony of the investment treaty, Matsumoto said Tokyo would try to ratify the accord soon.
The Japanese minister also expressed gratitude for donations of K10 million by Polye on behalf of the people of PNG to support Japanese victims of the March 11 9.0 quake and tsunami.
The two countries launched negotiations on the investment pact last September after then Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama and his Papua New Guinean counterpart Sir Michael Somare reached an accord to start the talks in March last year.
During the talks, Matsumoto told Polye that Japan, which faces energy shortages due chiefly to the ongoing nuclear crisis spawned by the twin disasters, hoped that Papua New Guinea would be a stable LNG supplier for Japan.
Polye said from Tokyo that PNG would ensure that a LNG development project, in which JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp is involved, would run smoothly.
About half of some 6.6 million tonnes of LNG to be produced annually from the project is scheduled to be exported to Japan.
Meanwhile, a statement from the Japan embassy in Port Moresby said it hoped that the signing of the bilateral investment agreement would further boost the economic development of PNG and affirm the bilateral relationship of the two counties.
“The agreement will contribute to enhancing legal stability for investment and promoting investment between the two counties as well as people-people exchange.
“It will also contribute to further strengthening the economic relationship with PNG which is being more important to Japan as a supplier of LNG,” the statement said.