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APEC boost and diversification efforts take centre stage in new report on Papua New Guinea

A new report from the global research and consultancy firm Oxford Business Group (OBG) on Papua New Guinea (PNG) explores both the near-term gains and longer-term benefits from its year as chair of APEC 2018, as the main November summit draws closer.

The Report: Papua New Guinea 2018 looks in detail at the broad range of infrastructure projects underway or in the planning stages, which form a key part of national plans to diversify the economy.

Transport infrastructure upgrades, including the Sustainable Highlands Highway Investment Programme, should be pivotal in helping PNG to develop its logistics sector and support the growth of agriculture and mining, while the next major LNG project in the pipeline, Papua LNG, should help spearhead economic growth on the back of growing global demand and rising oil prices, if the final investment decision expected next year is positive.

OBG also examines the government’s plans to develop PNG’s nascent tourism offering by addressing concerns on security, developing cruise infrastructure and harnessing the country’s attractions, which include an abundance of flora and fauna, vast stretches of pristine land and beaches, and a diverse culture.

Port Moresby’s changing skyline confirms that activity across PNG’s construction and real estate sectors is on the rise, buoyed by APEC events and the country’s expanding middle class. The Report: Papua New Guinea 2018 considers the challenges and opportunities presented by rising demand for residential, hotel, retail and office developments, while charting efforts to make more customary land available for development as large housing developments, malls and shops continue to be rolled out in the suburbs.

OBG’s report also asks what’s next for PNG’s agriculture sector, which has accounted for between 25% and 40% of GDP in recent decades, primarily due to cash crops such as palm oil, coffee, copra and cocoa. As the government looks to promote self-sufficiency, end reliance on imports and generate more foreign exchange earnings, higher levels of foreign investment OBG looks at the potential role of foreign investment in helping accelerate the changes needed for sustainable, long-term development.

The Report: Papua New Guinea 2018 contains a contribution from Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, together with a detailed sector-by-sector guide for investors.

It also features a wide range of contributions from other high-profile personalities, including: Charles Abel, Deputy Prime Minister; Alan Bollard, Executive Director, APEC Secretariat; David Toua, Chairman, APEC Business Advisory Council; and Wapu Sonk, Managing Director, Kumul Petroleum.

Commenting ahead of the launch, OBG’s Editor-in-Chief, Oliver Cornock, said that although PNG has witnessed lower levels of FDI inflows in the years following the completion of the country’s first major LNG project, PNG LNG, its role as host of many high-profile APEC meetings in 2018, culminating in the November summit, together with other key regional developments, had provided a timely opportunity for the country to revive investor interest.

“China has already moved to expand its interests in PNG, while other key bilateral partners are also strengthening their presence in the country, as our report shows,” he said. “Looking ahead, we expect future trade and investment relationships to be shaped by PNG’s efforts to leverage competing geopolitical interests to its advantage.”

Patrick Cooke, OBG’s regional editor for Asia, added that the report had also highlighted PNG’s bid to boost exports, with the recent launch of its first-ever national trade policy a key step forward in these plans.

“Self-sufficiency and economic diversification were identified as priorities following the 2017 elections, alongside the implementation of reforms to address the budget deficit,” he said.

“Our report indicates that the government’s plans for developing PNG’s non-extractive industries are gaining pace, whilst APEC 2018 will prove to be a useful springboard to generate investor interest and strengthen regional trade links,” he added.

The Report: Papua New Guinea 2018 marks the culmination of more than 12 months of field research by a team of analysts from Oxford Business Group. The publication assesses trends and developments across the country, including those in macroeconomics, infrastructure, banking and others.

The Report: Papua New Guinea 2018 has been produced with the Investment Promotion Authority, PwC and Leahy Lewin Lowing Sullivan Lawyers. It is available in print and online.