Visa deal to boost trade with Papua New Guinea
A CAMPAIGN to make it easier for people to travel from Papua New Guinea to Cairns on business has had its first success with the Federal Government agreeing to introduce online visa processing.The move has been welcomed by Advance Cairns which has been lobbying for the streamlining of visa applications.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and PNG's Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato announced the introduction next year of a special electronic visa arrangement.
They said it would mean PNG travellers could avoid queues at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby by applying for visas online.
Cairns-based senator Jan McLucas said the new arrangement would greatly benefit trade relationships between Cairns and Papua New Guinea.
"Advance Cairns and local business groups like Tradelinked have been very consistent in their message about the need to speed up visa processing to ensure we are not losing out on opportunities that may otherwise be going to other international destinations," she said. "Our challenge now is to capitalise on these visa changes and make sure Cairns is front of mind for PNG businesses seeking to develop new relationships."
A joint traveller facilitation taskforce comprising officials from Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship and Papua New Guinea's Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority will be established to identify legal and administrative requirements prior to the introduction of an electronic visa arrangement.
It is expected that the new visa arrangements will be introduced in the first half of next year.
Advance Cairns chief executive officer Stewart Christie said Advance Cairns had been working closely with the Australia-PNG Business Council and the Tradelinked Cairns-PNG business group identifying key Customs, immigration and visa issues that were impacting business opportunities between the countries.
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