Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

Trade Minister Richard Maru said in Parliament that he had summoned the Fiji High Commissioner on Monday and would write to Fiji’s government to lift the ban or face consequences. Video: EMTV

By Nadia Marai in Port Moresby

The Ox and Palm ‘trade war’, as it has been referred to by regional news outlets, between Papua New Guinea and Fiji was heightened this week with PNG’s Minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry saying Fiji lied about the products biosecurity risks.

While addressing Parliament on Monday Maru said, “I have confirmed in writing from the National Agriculture Quarantine & Inspection Authority (NAQIA) that there are no biosecurity risks, if there is, the Fijian government has never communicated such finding.’’

According to regional news reports the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) claimed PNG’s Ox and Palm was a biosecurity risk.

However, Maru said the NAQIA of Papua New Guinea has revealed that Fiji does not have an established biosecurity pathway (or import protocol) for PNG’s Ox & Palm so there is no real biosecurity threat to Fiji.

Loop PNG reported that Fiji’s biosecurity risks and therefore ban on Ox and Palm into the country is only a “cover” to  stop competition with Fiji’s Island Beef brand.

Agreements breached

“In our view Fiji breached some of the international agreements, including the World trade Organisation (WTO) agreements and MSG TA2 agreements,” said Maru.

He said PNG would not be tolerating such impediments to trade.

“Fiji has been very unfair in its trade practices and the government will not tolerate this anymore. We are going to put our foot down and take them to the appropriate forums to deal with Fiji.”

It has been almost two-weeks since PNG’s looming ultimatum to Fiji to respond to the issue.