Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru and one of Sapmer's vessels. (Photo: Sapmer/FIS)
French firm to invest USD 500 million in tuna project
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Thursday, February 14, 2013, 00:30 (GMT + 9)
French fishing firm Sapmer-Piriou Joint Venture is ready to invest half a billion dollars in a tuna-processing facility in Papua New Guinea (PNG), informed Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru, who met the company’s representatives in Singapore this January.
The company will spend some USD 500 million to construct a 300m-long fisheries wharf, a value-added tuna processing facility, a 400m dry dock and a shipyard, Maru told.
“The company has expressed strong interest to lease land at the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ). Negotiations are being finalised for a project agreement to be signed between the project promoter and the state,” he stated.
Maru noted how significant this is: it entails duty-free access market into the European Union (EU) market for PNG canned tuna and tuna loins and the creation of 2,500 jobs -- and once finished, it would be the zone’s anchor investment project, The National/Pacnews reports.
He proposed to the company to also build the country’s first shipbuilding yard and teach PNG natives some new trades.
“The company has shipbuilding operations in Vietnam and Nigeria and I’m insisting that similar operations be merged with the fish-processing plant,” Maru commented.
Considering possible negative environmental effects, Maru insisted on that Sapmer-Piriou should include a waste management processing facility in its plant.
But not everyone supports the project: local leaders question an agreement between the main plaintiffs of the PMIZ project case and Maru. They believe this “sweet deal” will disregard the well-being of local communities and other stakeholders and wonder what sort of benefits were given to the plaintiffs.
The local leaders announced that the two recognised umbrella companies, Rehammb Holdings and Kananam Investment, would not support the project if Maru keeps ignoring established structures and policies designed to address benefit sharing issues. They also said that the minister held a meeting last December without informing them.
“We want to know what sort of benefits will be given to them when other members of the community are waiting for theirs,” they said. “The immediate communities of Madang have the right to know why they were overlooked when the government is trying to please one particular plaintiff from a non-impact area many kilometres away from the project site.”
Sapmer-Piriou’s revenues increased by EUR 16.1 million last year to EUR 93.1 million.
By Natalia Real