The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) is inviting foreign direct investment from developed nations, which include Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, the United States, and European countries. This announcement was made by President Ishmael Toroama on the 31 October.
President Ishmael Toroama said Bougainville, which had experienced a tumultuous past, is now declaring itself open for business, with a specific appeal to those nations that have contributed to its development and peace over the past two decades since the cessation of the Bougainville Civil War.
The governments of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, the United States, and other significant development partners have played crucial roles in infrastructure development in Bougainville. However, President Toroama envisions a shift in their support towards economic investment in the region.
“My government believes that foreign direct investments will increase economic growth in Bougainville, improve social welfare for our people, and foster stronger ties with the international community,” President Toroama stated. This move signifies Bougainville’s aspiration for economic and political transformation, underlining its journey towards independence and sovereignty.
President Toroama said Bougainville should now focus on nurturing relationships with the mentioned nations, with the goal of deriving economic benefits and essential infrastructure development. These countries are envisioned as potential diplomatic partners when Bougainville achieves independence, contributing to regional peace, stability, and cooperation on various issues.
The ABG is dedicated to ensuring that foreign investment is conducted transparently, accountably, and sustainably while respecting the rights and interests of the people of Bougainville. This commitment underscores the region’s determination to safeguard its people and maintain responsible business practices.
The ABG’s call for foreign direct investment signifies a pivotal moment in Bougainville’s history, where a region once marred by conflict and instability is now seeking to secure its economic future while paving the way for its political independence. The move also highlights the region’s recognition of the contributions made by its international partners in building peace and prosperity.
Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea, holds a complex history. It gained global attention due to the Bougainville Civil War (1988-1998), sparked by grievances over environmental damage and economic disparities caused by a large copper mine operated by a multinational corporation. The conflict resulted in a ceasefire agreement and a push for autonomy.
In 2001, the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed, paving the way for a gradual transition towards self-governance. Bougainville conducted an independence referendum in 2019, with an overwhelming majority voting for independence. Negotiations continue between the Bougainville government and Papua New Guinea, as Bougainville aspires for full sovereignty and economic growth.