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Friday, 16 November

08:30

APEC security and PNG sovereignty Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

The APEC summit in Port Moresby has ignited a firestorm of debate in Papua New Guinea. Observers have highlighted the breathtaking incongruity between the lavish spending associated with APEC including spending on luxury cars, a new freeway, and swanky hotels and conference centres in the capital with the lack of drugs in health facilities, underpayment of teachers, and the return of Polio. Amongst this hand-wringing, some have suggested that the elaborate security arrangements involved in the hosting of APEC amount to the PNG state effectively ceding its sovereignty to external powers.

PNGs fledgling political opposition has pointed to the significant foreign security presence on the streets of Port Moresby during the APEC leaders meetings, comprising around 2,000 military and police personnel, as well as the personal security details of individual leaders and an array of private security providers, operating alongside PNGs own defence and police forces. The ostensible affront to PNGs sovereignty lies in this substantial foreign presence and the legal immunities granted to these external actors under the APEC Safety and Security Act 2017 as amended in 2018. While the legislation provides security forces with wide-ranging powers to search, investigate and use lethal force against civilians, it seeks to mitigate legal liability for foreign security personnel involved in APEC, including those operating outside of PNG (presumably those involved in extraterritorial maritime and aerial activities such as operating drones).

Railing against these legislative provisions, Shadow Justice Minister and member for Sinesine-Yongomugl, Kerenga Kua has said that this arrangement contracts out the countrys security. Our defence force is the only organisation in PNG that protects and defends our boundaries and our sovereignty You cant contract that away to somebody else. In a related vein, Jerry Singirok, former PNGDF commander and instigator of the revolt against the Chan government during the...

06:00

Fiji elections: Bainimarama rebuked but returned Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

Recent reporting indicates that the election results may in fact still be in doubt. An update will be provided when possible Stewart Firth, 10:45am 16/11/18.

Fiji went to the polls on 14 November in its second election since the restoration of democracy in 2014.

Fijis experience with democracy since independence in 1970 has been a tortured one. Three coups have interrupted democratic government in the last thirty years in 1987, 2000 and 2006 and the last was followed by eight years of military rule, with Frank Bainimarama as self-appointed Prime Minister. Bainimarama then led his Fiji First party to victory in the 2014 elections and became the elected Prime Minister under a constitution of his own devising. A kind of stability has since settled on Fiji, though the country has not returned to democracy in its fullest sense, that is with a fully independent judiciary and media. Instead, people who cast their vote on 14 November knew that unless they returned the Bainimarama Government, another coup was possible.

The victory of Bainimaramas Fiji First party was predicted in the polls and likely given the arithmetic of Fiji elections. With a large majority of Indo-Fijians supporting him, Bainimarama needed only to gain the backing of a minority of indigenous Fijians to win. Indo-Fijian voters remain grateful to Bainimarama for overturning a pro-indigenous Fijian government in the 2006 coup, and for abolishing Fijis racially-skewed system of voting under which race was a key category. Instead, under the open proportional representation system, the whole of Fiji is a single constituency and voting is open to all Fiji citizens 18 years or over regardless of race. Bainimarama has also endeavoured to introduce a single name for all Fiji citizens, Fijians, with the term i-Taukei reserved for the indigenous population.

The election result was a mild rebuke to Bainimaramas Fiji First, which looks set to gain a clear majority of about 52%, and a boost for SODELPA (Social Democratic Liberal Party, the successor to the old or Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua), which won about 38% of votes. Fiji First gained 59% of the votes in the government elected in 2014, and SODELPA gained 28%. Led by former coup leader from the 1980s, Sitiveni Rabuka, SODELPA has a pro-indigenous political orientation, and receives most of its votes from i-Taukei. But many indigenous Fijians voted for Fiji First in 2014 and did so again this time.

The opposition split between five parties apart from SODELPA. The National Federation Party (NFP) under Biman Prasad had three seats in the last Parliament and will be returned with a similar number this time. The other parties, none of which will be in the present parliament, were the HOPE party led by former NFP leader Tupou Draunidalo; the Unity...

00:15

Australias Trump Lite is overseas seeing what other trade opportunities he can wreck "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"



The Australian, 13 November 2018, p.2:

Scott Morrison has mounted the strongest defence of any allied leader so far of Donald Trumps trade policies, denying that Washington has turned protectionist because of its imposition of tariffs on China.

The US wants to see greater trade and more open trade and they want to see it on better terms, the Prime Minister told The Australian in an interview in his Sydney office. It is yet to be established that the US is pursuing a protectionist policy. 

Mr Morrison said he did not agree with the protectionist interpretation of the administrations trade policy.

Mr Morrison leaves today on a trip to Singapore and Papua New Guinea for APEC and ASEAN-related summits, during which he will meet US Vice-President Mike Pence, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japans Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a range of regional leaders.

...

Thursday, 15 November

06:00

The China shift in Pacific trade Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

World leaders are gathering in Port Moresby this week for the APEC Leaders meeting. On the sidelines, Xi Jinping will be meeting with leaders of Pacific island countries that recognise the one China policy. The meeting will be watched closely in Australia. Xi Jinping is widely expected to make announcements relating to enhanced cooperation with the region, and Chinese lending is sure to be a focus of resulting commentary in Australia. However, it is the changing nature of trade ties with the region that present a more significant challenge to Australian policymakers (even if the two are somewhat related).

As the Australian government seeks to step up its engagement with Pacific island countries, Australian-Pacific trade is stagnating. At the same time, trade between China and Pacific island countries (PICs) has grown rapidly, assisted by Chinas growing economic clout.

The increasing importance of trading ties with China is evident from even a cursory examination of international trade statistics collected by UN Comtrade (see Figure 1). The trajectory of Pacific imports from China is especially striking (note we are excluding PNG here, as it is discussed separately below).

Since 2000, there has been a twelve-fold increase in the value of Chinese exports to the region. Over the same period, imports from Australia have remained stagnant, with their value in 2017 lower than that in 2004. These trends would suggest that Pacific consumers are substituting Chinese goods for Australian goods probably due to lower prices. More detailed analysis is needed.

The story is similar for Pacific exports, though the numbers involved are much smaller. Pacific exports to China have risen dramatically from a low base of $46m in 2005 to almost $400m in 2017 (all figures are in USD; broad trends remain the same when accounting for currency fluctuations). There has been no such pattern for exports to Australia, which have moved up and down over the period. Exports to Australia were lower in 2017 ($160m) than in 2005 ($210m), though they were higher in 2012 ($340m).

The combined result is that both Pacific exports to China, and imports from China, have overtaken those to/from Australia in the last five years.

Figure 1: PIC exports and imports to Australia and China 2000-2017, excluding PNG (US$m)

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