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by PNG Business News - March 09, 2021

The Australia Papua New Guinea Business Council and the Business Council of Papua New Guinea are pleased to be re-launching the 36th Australia Papua New Guinea Business Forum and Trade Expo, which was deferred from 2020 to 24 to 26 May 2021. For the first time ever, this event will be held concurrently in Brisbane (at the Royal International Convention Centre), Port Moresby (at Hilton Port Moresby Hotel) and also online, with a shared speaking program.

The Forum theme for this year is “Reimagining the Future Papua New Guinea”. The theme aims to capture the important message that Australia and Papua New Guinea along with the rest of the world, must move and pivot with the times and circumstances in order to prosper. It also looks to advance discussion about greater diversity in the PNG economy.  Coronavirus and all its related restrictions and issues, along with advancements in technology mean that we must, collectively, think of different ways to work in trade, economy and indeed life. Online connectivity appears to be one of the important forms of communication that will continue for the foreseeable future.

This Forum is distinctly established as the leading annual bilateral business meeting between Australia and Papua New Guinea, and builds on the work both Councils have done over more than three decades in growing the bilateral business relationship.

The program for the Forum includes an overview of the political and economic climate, particularly issues which affect business and investment, and will include specific sessions by expert presenters on topics such as the Covid-19 Pandemic, emerging economic business opportunities in PNG, agribusiness, infrastructure, SME growth, Papua New Guineans in the Australian labour market, and resources. 

Key government ministers from Australia and Papua New Guinea, and a range of other expert speakers, have been invited to address the Forum to inform business representatives of policy issues in their portfolio relevant to business, and they will be able to join us from whichever location they are in, whether Brisbane, Port Moresby or elsewhere. Delegates will be able to engage in lively interaction with presenters in most sessions either live in person, or via the online platform with a Q&A feature. Video recordings of presentations will become available online soon after they are given so that delegates may go back and revisit portions they may have missed.

There is something in the program for just about anyone who has an interest in the bilateral business and economic relationship and in the economy of Papua New Guinea.

Delegates will be able to connect via the online platform by sending messages and/or booking appointment times with each other, particularly if they are not attending the Forum at the same venue.

The Forum will again feature a Trade Expo for Australian and Papua New Guinean companies wishing to use the opportunity to match their goods and services to clients and purchasers in each country, and to broaden their business relationship. An innovative development this year is that all the trade booths will be online, with a limited number of physical booths at each location (as well as online) due to Covid restrictions. Booth exhibitors will be able to display their corporate logo, upload documents and short videos for visitors, include links to their own website, and chat one-on-one with delegates online, who can request meeting times with them via the online platform. This is a new, exciting and pioneering way to do things, and we will endeavour to have answers for you immediately should you encounter any problems while using the online platform.

Register early for this conference as in-person spots at each location are limited and demand will be heavy.  To register, complete the online booking process at  Please take care to show where/how you wish to participate. There are many new features that we will be introducing during this Forum as we look to resume regular business to business engagement, which has been so disrupted during the last year. This is a very good value conference.

Enquiries about registration, Trade Expo bookings and accommodation should be directed to the secretariat of the Australia Papua New Guinea Business Council, on telephone + 61 7 3348 5142 or by e-mail at or to the Business Council of Papua New Guinea on telephone + 675 323 8465, fax + 675 323 5162 or by e-mail at

We look forward to hosting you at the 36th Australia Papua New Guinea Business Forum and Trade Expo on 24-26 May 2021, whether in Brisbane, Port Moresby, or Online.

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PNG Business News - December 07, 2020

International Friendships Help Government

In the past 18 months, strong international friendships have helped the government in its continuing economic reform policies.According to Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey, this included the chance to meet with the Australian High Commission last December 3 - which included a conference call with Australian Treasury officials - to discuss the robust strategic relationship and PNG’s multi-year budget economic program. “We are now exploring other options, including making direct contact again with the Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. As another Treasurer having to deal with the COVID-19 challenges, he will be putting out the Australian MYEFO later this month,” said Ling-Stuckey. “This will highlight once again the massive budget hole that the pandemic has been creating around the world.He continued, “Australia one year ago estimated its 2020/21 Australian Budget deficit would be 0.3 per cent of GDP. Because of the bushfires and COVID-19, Australia’s budget deficit estimate increased to 11 per cent of GDP – a massive increase of 10.7 per cent of GDP (PNG’s deficit in 2020 increased by 3.1 per cent of GDP – less than one-third as much). Australian debt levels as a share of GDP are expected to increase because of COVID-19 from 34.5 per cent in 2019/20 to 44.8 per cent in 2020/21 to 55 per cent in the medium-term. Sharing our experiences with friends, even across very different economies, makes it easier to understand the impacts of the global pandemic and stay true to the reform course. We cannot slow down the process of PNG’s budget repair by the Marape Government in these most difficult of COVID-19 times.”


PNG Business News - January 11, 2021

Official: Arrangements in the Resources Sector Need to be Reviewed and Updated

In his 2021 economic outlook, PNG Institute of National Affairs Director Paul Barker said that there is a need to review and update fiscal arrangements in the resource sector. He said that the requirements involved constructive dialogue with project investors and operators. “Review and updates also for individual projects when their licenses fell due for review or renewal, but this needed to be conducted in an open and orderly manner, avoiding undue disruption,” he said. “Constructive dialogue with the State using sound international reviews and evidence, and not being pushed about or spoon-fed. However, the art of making a good deal requires a readiness for compromise, unless there are very good grounds for not doing so, such as if the project is of marginal benefit, or can be advantageously deferred or rescheduled, rather than having multiple new projects simultaneously. Clearly, the costs or risks (including environmental) for some projects may be excessive and the Government fully justified in rejecting or deferring them, at least until better knowledge or technology is available.”Barker said that in the past two years, the stand of the government was “unduly rigid over some prospective resource projects, seen as potentially providing a substantial economic stimulus impact, but most notably with the Porgera mine”.“Unlike other projects, the Porgera mine was a long-operating mine in a remote part of the Highlands, in which the State had once held a significant equity, which was subsequently sold, except the province’s small but valuable share, together with the landowners’,” he said. “The investors were ready to improve the State’s and local equity and other benefits, and robust negotiations were certainly justified, but unfortunately the State’s demand seemed excessive and unduly rigid, and failed to appreciate the extent of economic and social benefits and revenue provided by the mine.”


PNG Business News - November 30, 2020

Secretary Urges Businesses To Invest Beyond Port Moresby

As part of the government’s strategy to re-invest back into the rural areas, the Department of Treasury Secretary Dairi Vele has urged companies to look beyond Port Moresby to do business, and begin their investments in outside centres. According to Vele, businesses should branch out to the outside centres to offer people more services. He said, “The Marape government is still finding its feet. Part of this swift response is to develop an economic stimulus package which as much as possible tries to put money into pockets.”Secretary Vele said that because of the restrictions and lockdowns that COVID has imposed on many cities, the private sector has limited selling their goods and products to neighbouring towns. He added that the reason why they started investing in rural areas was to encourage businesses to work there and to offer their services. “Sometimes the private sector focuses too much on the urban areas,” he said. “We need to find ways to try and encourage them to get out into some of the other parts of PNG.”Mr Value added that the concept of special economic zones in countries such as China has worked successfully, therefore telling businesses that, “say if you come and do business here we’ll make it much easier for you.”“That’s what the special economic zone is trying to achieve,” he said. “We think it’s a good idea and we hope that a lot of these companies also take the opportunity to go and operate out that way.”

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Oil and Gas

PNG Business News - April 08, 2021

Price of Oil Recovers in Spite of COVID

According to Oil Search, oil prices have risen steadily in recent months from the initial effect of the Covid-19 last year, when prices ranged about US$43 (K150) per barrel of oil (bbl), to levels above US$60/bbl (K210) since February this year. In response to questions, a group spokesperson said,“ To date, there has been no impact to production in our Oil Search operations in PNG as a result of the recent surge in the Covid-19 cases. The increase in confirmed Covid-19 cases in PNG has prompted Oil Search to enact its crisis and emergency management plans. The health and safety of our employees remain the company’s highest priority and teams have been assembled in PNG and Sydney to deploy additional support to protect our people and to ensure the safety and reliability of our operations. At our PNG field locations, we continue to operate under precautionary protocols established in 2020, which includes redeployment of non-essential personnel, restriction of access and travel to field locations and implementation of strict preventative measures and quarantine zones.” He added, “We have enacted additional risk mitigation measures include establishing ‘cocoons’ for our field teams and extending the quarantine period for employees and contractors. To date, there has not been a single positive case recorded in our operating sites outside of quarantine. We have also conducted more than 7,500 Covid-19 tests at our medical clinics and quarantine facilities in PNG. Beyond the safety of our own people and assets, Oil Search stands ready to work with relevant Government and health authorities to assist in PNG’s overall response to the Covid-19. This includes the dissemination of accurate information around the Covid-19 and vaccinations, supporting provincial health authorities to implement an effective vaccination programme, and providing logistics and cold chain support where required and as directed by the Government.”


PNG Business News - April 08, 2021

Lae Chamber Welcomes Green Energy

The Lae Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said it welcomes any power plan that is long-term, environmentally friendly and creates jobs in the delivery of efficient, low-cost electricity in Lae and Morobe. President John Byrne referred to concerns regarding the PNG Biomass project in the province's Markham Valley when he said, “PNG Biomass has provided a solution which ticks most of these boxes, whether it fits the plan of PPL (PNG Power Ltd) is a decision beyond our scope. The recent Ramu 2 announcement is another such solution. Our people of Lae, Morobe, and PNG, not only expect but deserve, reliable, constant and cost-effective power solutions.” According to Byrne, the Lae business group praised the Lae PPL team for their commitment, hard work, and communication in maintaining an ageing and insecure grid infrastructure operational. He said many companies that had short or long-term contracts with the government were failing because of the long-standing outstanding Government bills owing to them. “The quantum of debt is not specified but very large and this added to the impact of the Covid-19, resource debates and a lack of forex is taking a toll on the business houses.,” he said.


PNG Business News - April 08, 2021

Businesses Concerned Regarding Government Debts

With the outstanding amount of government debt owed to the sector, pending landowner fees, and rising law and order woes, businesses are concerned about 2022. According to Chey Scovell, chief executive officer of the PNG Manufacturers Board, conversations within the business community revealed that the government owed companies more than K2 billion. “I don’t have an updated list, but from general conversations with business and what is being raised with the various chambers, it would exceed K2 billion,” he said. “We hear that contractors for the Department of Works have claims for this amount alone, so the number could be as high as K3 billion. No doubt they may have paid some, technically a K1 payment would be paying at least some. The Budget hasn’t been able to be implemented properly at all. Recurrent expenditure, monthly bills for things like water, power, security, rent, are not being paid in full or in many cases at all. We’ve suggested that the Government put up an online portal/list, for all creditors to register for the Government to show full or progressive payments.” Scovell compared what the government was doing to the private community to what would happen if everybody started paying taxes for one to five years but continued to use government programs. “They wouldn’t be able to survive, so how is it that they expect businesses to carry on?” he said. “It is also a bit of a cop-out that Treasury is taking a long time and in many instances taking extensive reviews of claims to see if they will pay them and by how much.” Scovell argued that the government was required to behave in good faith and to set a precedent, but that forcing or intimidating companies to make substantial reductions in compensation due for goods and services rendered was bad form. “We note there are many dodgy claims, but there seems to be little evidence that hires car firms, public works contractors and catering firms (reported as problematic areas) are having the same scrutiny,” he said. “BOC Gas waited years to be paid for medical gases such as oxygen supplied to PMGH (Port Moresby General Hospital), it was reviewed twice that I know of and not paid. The other item of note is that debt carried is a growing debt. The older it gets the more it has cost the businesses.” He added, “Also, our currency has been depreciating, many businesses based their fees on the foreign exchange rates at that time, some even had loans Just like our tax penalties, the longer they are overdue, the higher they should become. This Government isn’t doing to others as it does for itself. We still have micro, small and medium enterprises that have suffered duress due to non-payment of bills going all the way back to our 40th Independence, same goes for the 2015 Pacific Games, we hear from the regional chambers that there are many outstanding claims for the past two elections. Again, if we had a publicly available list, the Government wouldn’t be able to hide behind confusion and people could whistleblow on dubious claims.”

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