APNGBC NEWS : 17th May 2016

32nd Australia Papua New Guinea Business Forum Communique

Cairns Convention Centre, Cairns, Australia
15 to 17 May, 2016
'Today's Investments, Tomorrow's Returns'

— By APNGBC

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32nd AUSTRALIA PAPUA NEW GUINEA BUSINESS FORUM COMMUNIQUE.

The 32nd Australia Papua New Guinea Business Forum Trade Expo held at the Cairns Convention Centre from 15 to 17 May 2016 with the theme: Today’s Investments, Tomorrow’s Returns” was attended by some 500 delegates, partners, speakers, trade exhibitors and guests. There were a sellout 50 trade booths in the Trade Expo which was opened by the Governor of Queensland, His Excellency Mr Paul de Jersey AC.

The Forum, comprising plenary sessions and eight workshops on a range of topics, was addressed by the Honourable Peter O’Neill, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, and Senator the Honourable Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific representing the Australian Prime Minister, the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull MP, Mr Loi Bakani, Governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea, President John Momis, President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, and a range of expert speakers on the topics.

Notwithstanding current fiscal and economic difficulties, business delegates and speakers at the Forum indicated a strong confidence in Papua New Guinea’s long term economic future.

Speakers and delegates expressed strong support at the emergence of high calibre Papua New Guinea women in professional and executive positions in Papua New Guinea, and endorsed the central role this emerging generation of women must play in Papua New Guinea’s future through their economic and social empowerment. The presentation by Kokoda Track Foundation Archer Leadership Scholar Ms Stephannie Kirriwom was received by delegates as indicative of the calibre of emerging young Papua New Guinea women. Delegates committed to the call for business to stand up against domestic violence in all forms.

The inspirational 5th Henry Kila Memorial Address was delivered by Dr Barry Kirby, Founder of The Hands of Rescue (THOR) Foundation, who described the work being done especially in obstetrics to support remote rural women in Papua New Guinea amongst whom there has been a high mortality rate but which has declined significantly due to the work of the Foundation in the areas in which it works.

Prime Minister O’Neill and Minister Fierravanti-Wells highlighted the special relationship which exists between our two countries and the strength of the bilateral business and economic relationship which has substantially grown in 40 years of Papua New Guinea’s independence.

Prime Minister O’Neill outlined work being undertaken in Papua New Guinea to improve health and education services and national economic infrastructure. Delegates welcomed the Prime Minister’s statement that the foreign exchange situation would be improved in coming weeks. They also welcome his announcement that he had directed the Chief Secretary to cut red tape for business.

Minister Fierravanti-Wells emphasised the Australian Government’s work across many fronts in partnership with the Papua New Guinea Government for Papua New Guinea development, and highlighted work being undertaken to improve social and economic investment in women who comprise 50% of the population of Papua New Guinea but currently are socially and economically disadvantaged.

The Forum noted there are a range of policy changes either recently legislated or in various stages of process which will have a crucial effect on the development of business and the non-resource economy in Papua New Guinea in coming years including the National Trade Policy Review, SME Policy 2016 and related policy, the Biosecurity Bill, Taxation Review, Mining Act Review, the Land Act review. The Papua New Guinea Government was urged to develop policy carefully in consultation with key stakeholders to ensure these changes will produce the desired outcomes for the Papua New Guinea economy and people.

Delegates heard presentations on the economic and budget situation in Papua New Guinea, including current forecasts for future economic recovery and growth. The Bank of Papua New Guinea was urged to lay down a clear timeline for a return to normal foreign exchange trading conditions to enable businesses to plan their forward cash flow requirements.

Delegates were briefed on how to do business in Papua New Guinea including obtaining appropriate work permits and visas and developments in this area. The Governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea were called on to work more urgently to improve the processes and mechanisms which control the movement of people in both directions and which are an impediment to business and to community relationships.

Business was urged to support work being done by the Papua New Guinea Government and donors to reduce the spread of TB and related diseases which have a significant impact on business and the community.

Delegates were briefed on the power and impact of outcome focused training to address industry needs and possible employment opportunities for students. They were provided with an overview of the New Colombo Plan and were encouraged to become involved. They were also briefed on the Pacific and Governance Precinct at the University of Papua New Guinea, and the impact of the collaboration between UPNG and the Australian National University.

Delegates were briefed on recent work undertaken by the Papua New Guinea Government and donors to improve the workforce readiness of education graduates, and business undertook to collaborate further with stakeholders for further improvement of those outcomes.

A workshop on Aid for Trade attracted a very high level of delegate attendance and participation who were briefed on and developed a better understanding of the scope of aid for trade work being undertaken in Papua New Guinea which covers a wide range of economic and development sectors. The briefing also covered the crucial role that interconnectivity plays in development of trade across business especially in the SME sector.

Exploring how the Prime Minister’s expressed vision for Port Moresby to become an Asia Pacific air transport hub might be realised the Forum heard of the characteristics involved in achieving this vision including appropriate international standard infrastructure, liberal air services agreements, effective high standard airways management systems and open markets.

Delegates heard about the opportunities for economic and trade growth in Papua New Guinea which can be achieved though international connections such as membership of the International Standards Organisation and compliance with its standards and through the potential benefits of PACER Plus as well as opportunity for Papua New Guinea to become a regional trade policy maker instead of a trade policy taker.

The Forum heard updates from Exxon Mobil PNG, Kumul Petroleum and PanAust on developments in the oil and gas and minerals sectors in Papua New Guinea including future opportunities and projections.

Papua New Guinea will host the APEC Leaders Meeting in 2018, and delegates were briefed on policy and logistics planning including opportunities for business to contribute to the delivery of a successful showcase event for Papua New Guinea. The Business Council of Papua New Guinea through its participation in the APEC Business Advisory Council is leading the business component of APEC.

The rich vein of young entrepreneurial talent in Papua New Guinea was discussed including the role of Kumul Game Changers in developing this talent. Businesses were urged to support the work of Kumul Games Changers and Papua New Guinea’s young entrepreneurs.

Addressing infrastructure shortcomings is essential for Papua New Guinea’s continued economic growth. A workshop considered these issues and identified that the Business Councils could work to assist address governance and regulatory issues which impact on the potential entry to the infrastructure sector of reputable investors and operators.

The Forum discussed opportunities for Australia and Papua New Guinea to work together in developing cross border trade and investment for northern Australia and Papua New Guinea, and encourage both governments to develop innovative legislative and regulatory frameworks to enable greater cross-border business and economic collaboration.

Delegates heard about recent political and economic developments in Bougainville, and received a report on a recent Business Mission to Bougainville arranged by the Australia Papua New Guinea Business Council.

The 33rd Australia Papua New Guinea Business Forum will be held in Port Moresby in 2017.

CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA.
17 May 2016

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