Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s Remarks at the Fiji-PNG Trade Dinner

Bula vinaka and a very good evening to you all.

After the wonderful hospitality shown to members of the Fijian delegation, it is a great pleasure for me to be hosting this official dinner as my visit to PNG draws to a close.

As much as it is formal, it is also a family meal. Because as well as being friends, allies and trading partners, we are both members of the extended Melanesian family, whose interests we represent and uphold.

We have crammed so much into this visit that I cannot believe that we’ve only been in Port Moresby since Monday. Thank you for your warm welcome, your overwhelming hospitality and the substantive nature of our discussions.

We came seeking to strengthen our political and economic ties, promote trade and investment and, discuss our vision for Papua New Guinea and Fiji to lead the Melanesian Spearhead Group into a single, unified market. We leave tomorrow having accomplished this and much more.

We’re especially grateful to the Papua New Guinean Government for its generous contribution to our election preparations in Fiji – a total of 50 million Kina – 25 million this year and 25-million in 2014. It is a vote of confidence in Fiji and our desire to establish a genuine parliamentary democracy for the first time and it is deeply appreciated.

This visit has been an outstanding success, and I want to pay tribute to Prime Minister O’Neill for his leadership and the rest of his Government for their hard work and careful attention to detail.

I also want to thank the business leaders who accompanied me on this visit and their Papua New Guinean counterparts, who have been discussing how we can grow our trade, investment and commercial opportunities. We have achieved much – as evidenced by the BeMobile partnership – and are certain to achieve much more in the coming weeks and months.

Fiji looks forward to hosting a Papua New Guinean trade and investment delegation at a date to be fixed and give us the opportunity to extend our celebrated Fijian hospitality to you.

Of course, the coming months are important ones for Fiji, as we finalise a new Constitution and prepare the ground for parliamentary elections by September 2014.

In conclusion, I want to warmly thank Papua New Guinea for its understanding, support and encouragement for the reforms of my Government, both privately and publicly in regional forums, and on the world stage at large.

It has been wonderful to have you standing shoulder to shoulder with us as we strive to produce a new national framework for a better Fiji, a more equal Fiji in which people are judged on their merits.

Through this process, Fijians have come to know who their true friends are – we are grateful for the friendship of the Papua New Guineans.

I now propose a toast to the Government and people of Papua New Guinea – friends and partners now and into the future.

To Papua New Guinea