PORT MORESBY (PAPUA NEW GUINEA):President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday arrived in Port Moresby, capital of Papua New Guinea, on a two-day state visit — the first ever by an Indian President — to strengthen cooperation with the islands key to India’s “act east” policy.
With a population of 7.1 million and 462.840 sq kms of area, PNG is the largest Pacific Island nation, both in terms of the population and area. Over 3,000 Indians, mostly businessmen and professionals, work here in different areas, including IT and IT-enabled services, education, and mining.
The island nation, according to local officials, is looking to strengthen cooperation in defence, agriculture and health care sectors. On its part, India has assured it would extend all possible help. Speaking at a banquet hosted by PNG Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio, the President said India had much to offer to PNG.
“Our public and private sector are keen to join you in exploring your gas and oil reserves, establishing downstream industries and developing infrastructure that you require in different sectors. “We consider our cooperation with the Islands of the Pacific to be a key component of our ‘act east’ policy,” he said.
Bilateral trade amounts to $ 209 million, $157 million from imports and $52.19 million from exports. Indian companies are looking at various projects coming up in PNG, consequent to the discovery of natural gas, and growth in commerce and trade, especially in Indian processed food, is likely to increase as the PNG market expands.
Visa on Arrival
India has offered $100-million line of credit to Papua New Guinea for financing infrastructure projects and providing medicines to 20,000 HIV-AIDS patients. In return, PNG has agreed to provide visas on arrival for Indian tourists visiting the island nation. On an average, 40,000 Indian tourists visit the country every year.
President Pranab Mukherjee, who is on a two-day visit to the Island nation announced the government decision to provide medicines to people suffering from HIV AIDS, Preeti Saran, Secretary (East) Ministry of External Affairs told mediapersons on Thursday night. The high prevalence of HIV AIDS is a major concern in the island nation.