Victor Mambor, Jayapura – The Papua administration has requested that the central government assist it in bolstering the trade network with neighboring countries in the Pacific, as the province seeks to promote itself as a regional trading hub.
The province had the potential to play a role in boosting trade and serve as a tourist destination for nations in the Pacific, but a lack of transportation access with neighboring countries posed a challenge, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe said.
Lukas, who recently returned from the 2019 Pacific Exposition in Auckland, New Zealand, said he had discussed the possibility of improving the trade partnership with Papua New Guinea (PNG) and reaching out to more Pacific countries.
However, without direct transportation options from Papua to Papua New Guinea, which share borders, issues with immigration and custom and excise remained, he said.
"I have asked the government multiple times to open direct access to and from Papua New Guinea, whether through land, sea or air," Lukas told The Jakarta Post. "But as of now nothing has happened. Jakarta has been very slow in responding to our request."
Lukas went on to call for Jakarta to improve connectivity between Papua and neighboring countries by, for instance, opening access to direct transportation between Timika, Papua, and Cairns, Australia, or Jayapura, Papua, and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, while Jayapura Port could be designed for foreign vessels.
Should Jakarta maintain its silence over the request, Lukas said he would join hands with the government of Papua New Guinea in establishing direct transportation, which would in turn allow Papua to reach more countries in the Pacific.
"I have contacted PNG Prime Minister James Marape to further discuss the plan," Lukas said. "I hope Papua will be able to fulfill PNG's domestic demand for rice, sugar and other commodities."
In response to the Papua administration's request, Indonesian Ambassador to New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa Tantowi Yahya said he was confident that the central government would consider the proposal.
"The Pacific Exposition was our effort to open trade access between Indonesia's eastern regions and the Pacific region," Tantowi said. (rfa/afr)