Jhon Kwano: Doing Business in Melanesia is Still Done in Service to the Colonial Masters

Jhon Y. Kwano, the owner of PAPUAmart.com as a start-up minimarket in West Papua says business in Melanesia is still done in service to the colonial masters, not to help ourselves in our regional economy. He points out for example, most of the business deals are done between Melanesian nation-state with western countries like New Zealand, Australia, Europe, China and the United States, in serving the needs and wants of the so-called “colonial powers in postmodern era”.

He continues that there was an agreement signed by Melanesian leaders to encourage business initiatives and cooperation among Melanesian business entities, across Melanesian regions. However, so far, there seems to be nothing happening. All Melanesian leaders are focusing their work and spending their energy and time on serving the needs and wants of their master colonial countries. For Kwano this is an indication that Melanesian countries are somewhat independent politically, but economically we are still under colonial control. Only until we are free from colonial influence in doing business, then we will be sure that were are independent, free from strong colonial influence.

Jhon acknowledges that Melanesia is part of the global community and cannot be isolated from global interactions and business deals, however he argues that the deals and interactions should first start among Melanesians first. He gives examples that his Cooperative, KSU Baliem Arabica based in Wamena, West Papua right now produced the Wamena Single Orign Arabica Coffee, already been sold to the USA, South Korea, Hong Kong and Europe, but never been sold to any of the Melanesian countries. Furthermore he adds New Guinea also the only producer of the Red Pandanus Oil in the world, but only Asian consumers are buying and selling this product, and never been traded among Melanesian peoples. Another obvious example is regarding Kava trade. Recently news from Vanuatu and sometime ago from Fiji reported some problems with Kava Ban with some European countries that triggered business lobby and frustration on the seller countries.

Jhon says if Kava is sold to Papua New Guinea and West Papua, then it will be more beneficial, both socially and economically. He says the biggest problem is when Melanesian leaders think about business and trade, they first off all think about colonial countries, not their own fellow Melanesian nation-states.

Kwano continues

I pray to God that Melanesian leaders, particularly current Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Vanuatu, to consider re-orientating business deals and activities among Melanesian peoples, and invite other Melanesian ministers of foreign affairs and trade to establish a Melanesian-to-Melanesian Business Policy.

West Papua under PAPUAmart.com Group companies is ready to supply any products from inside West Papua, or from Papua New Guinea as well as from Indonesia with more reasonable price to all companies in Melanesia, but we should start thinking and acting to engage Melanesian business enterprises and entrepreneurs to interact and share experiences, resources and skills.

He says that there will be no colonial countries come to us and tell us what is best for our countries and our peoples, other than ourselves realizing this and action upon the insights and wisdom from ourselves. He adds “This is a way of thinking of a free man and women, not colonised mentality.”

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