APNGBC BLOG : 15th Jul 2016

Cairns and Papua New Guinea: the potential to grow together

Cairns and PNG share much more than close proximity.


Did you know that Cairns and Lae have been sister cities since 1984 (Cairns’ second oldest sister city relationship). In fact, Cairns is the closest Australian city to a foreign capital, Port Moresby. As Papua New Guinea develops as a nation, there is great potential for Cairns to benefit from and share in the future of Papua New Guinea and vice versa.

Several thousand Cairns residents are of Papua New Guinea origin and Cairns ranks among the highest of any Australian city when it comes to weekly flights to Papua New Guinea, including direct international flights to beautiful tourist destinations such as Kokopo in East New Britain. Cairns also receives thousands of visiting Papua New Guinea tourists each year as it is considered a great place for a holiday, shopping and visiting family and friends given its close proximity to Port Moresby. Papua New Guinea and Queensland also share a love of Rugby League with several Queensland teams playing matches in PNG during the season.

With these close connections, come excellent business opportunities for both Cairns and Papua New Guinea and there are already strong business relationships between the two. The annual Australia Papua New Guinea Business Forum, run by the Australia Papua New Guinea Business Council has been held in Cairns on seven occasions since 2004 due to its excellent facilities, its proximity to Papua New Guinea and its attractiveness as a destination for Papua New Guineans.

Tropical expertise synergies help to create business and educational partnerships not only between Cairns and Papua New Guinea but also with other Melanesia countries as seen in research and health programs run by James Cook University and Papua New Guinean institutions. The forthcoming Future of Tropical Economies Conference hosted in Cairns is an example of the shared interests of these regions.

Recently, Cairns-based businesses visited Bougainville in Papua New Guinea as participants in a business mission arranged by the Australia Papua New Guinea Business Council and identified a range of business opportunities there.  Work is continuing to develop these prospects.

The opportunities for Cairns-based businesses in Papua New Guinea are many and varied. Despite a sometimes negative reputation, Papua New Guinea is a wonder to behold and those who visit are often charmed by the place, the people and certainly, the potential. In a Country so close to Cairns, with incredibly rich and fertile lands, a growing population of over 8 million people and the most diverse and interesting cultures in the world, there is so much more to Papua New Guinea than first meets the eye.

The Australia Papua New Guinea Business Council, established in 1980, works to promote trade and investment between Australia and Papua New Guinea and economic growth in Papua New Guinea, has regular dialogue with governments on policy issues germane to business, and is a centre for networking and information about doing business in Papua New Guinea.  Its sister Councils, the Australia Fiji Business Council and the Australia Pacific Islands Business Council do similar work in relation to Fiji and all the other Pacific islands economies especially those in Melanesia.

The Councils are not for profit associations of business, and are wholly funded by member subscriptions and by the events they run, including several business forums. The Councils represent business interests in what can sometimes be challenging environments and we encourage the Cairns businesses community to contact us to learn more about how they can benefit from involvement with the Council’s work and events.


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