PNG Business News - June 05, 2023
PM Marape holds bilateral with Australia on margins of Korea-Pacific Islands Summit
Photo: Prime Minister Hon. James Marape and Australia Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Richard Marles in Seoul, Korea.-DEPARTMENT OF PM & NEC MEDIA Prime Minister Hon. James Marape met with the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia Hon. Richard Marles on Monday, May 29, 2023, on the margins of the inaugural Korea-Pacific Islands Summit in Seoul, Korea. PM Marape and DPM Marles discussed issues of concern for both countries, including giving each other updates on the recently-signed Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) with the United States and the proposed Bilateral Security Treaty (BST) with Australia, visa issues and the PNG NRL bid. He informed DPM Marles that the Bilateral Security Treat that Australia would like to have with Papua New Guinea “is a work in progress at the moment”. “It is a work in progress and requires the PNG side to consult our domestic processes and sovereign laws in relation to certain wordings and provisions,” PM Marape said. He also conveyed his apologies to Australian Prime Minister Hon. Anthony Albanese for the delay in formalising this proposed Treaty with Australia For the DCA with the US, PM Marape informed that it was centered around improving the PNG Defence Force’s capabilities and interoperability, including protecting our frontiers and sovereignty. He said it was non-discriminatory and PNG was open to entering into similar arrangements with its other bilateral partners. “In fact, the DCA would also complement domestic law enforcement,” PM Marape said. “The Ship Rider Agreement, on the other hand, was also vital in combating illegal fishing and transnational crimes.” For Visa issues, DPM Marles informed that the current Australian Government was fully aware of the situation and following the Ministerial Forum in February this year in Canberra, had established a Joint Ministerial Team to work on bringing the Australian visa processing facility back on shore to PNG. PM Marape, in his response, said that all processes from both sides had to be attended to in order for smooth facilitation and for citizens and businesses to continue without much hindrance now and heading into 2O25 when PNG celebrated 50 years of nationhood. He informed DPM Marles that the Republic of Korea and PNG signed a Visa Waiver Agreement on Monday before the Australia-PNG bilateral. On PNG’s NRL Bid, PM Marape explained that PNG was still very keen, as rugby league was a major unifying factor, bringing 800 tribes together as one people. In closing, PM Marape assured DPM Marles that PNG in no way would compromise its excellent existing bilateral relations with Australia and further stressed that PNG was capable of managing its sovereign affairs on its terms, systems and processes.
PNG Business News - June 05, 2023
Minister Maru Discusses Broad Trade and Investment Framework with Korean Minister
Minister for International Trade and Investment, Hon. Richard Maru met with his counterpart Minister, Hon. Chan-Yang Lee the Korean Minister for Trade, Industry and Energy on the margins of the inaugural PIC-Korea Leaders’ Summit in Seoul, Republic of Korea on May 30, 2023. Minister Maru was part of Prime Minister Marape’s delegation to the Inaugural Pacific Island Countries and Korea Leaders meeting held in Seoul on May 29, 2023. He was accompanied by Vice Minister for Treasury Hon. Solan Loifa. Minister Maru expressed that PNG since establishing formal diplomatic relations with Korea never had a formal arrangement in place to facilitate trade and investment of its products, including fish, coffee, cocoa and chocolate products, timber products and LNG and many others; and to also allow for Korean investors to invest in PNG. He stressed for Korean investors to invest in manufacturing sector where they can downstream process and value add PNG's vast natural resources in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy and opportunities in the ICT sectors. Since Korea already has markets for its products and positive reputation as a quality manufacturer and supplier of products to the world, for them to invest and produce in PNG, the overseas markets for these products are already secured. Minister Maru informed his Korean counterpart of the Special Economic Zones he is championing and invited Korean companies to invest in these zones where Government will accord them special incentives. Minister Lee responded positively for more Korean investors to consider investing in PNG while acknowledging PNG’s available resources unlike Korea. Minister Lee further informed that Korea now prefers Economic Cooperation Framework arrangement rather than the traditional Free Trade Agreement and so far has signed such arrangements with several countries. Such arrangements can appropriately facilitate trade and investment between trading partners, hence welcomed Minister Maru’s proposal for a broad framework arrangement to facilitate trade and investment between the two countries. Minister Lee also informed Minister Maru of the Korean Trade and Investment Authority (KOTRA), which is Korea’s national Trade and Investment promotion organisation established in 1962 whose mandate include promoting Korea’s trade and investment and encouraged PNG to also work with KOTRA to realise increased trade and investment with Korea. Minister Maru and Minister Yang Lee concluded their meeting on a high note agreeing for PNG to share its draft for the Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement with Korea for their views going forward.
PNG Business News - May 31, 2023
Strengthening Bilateral Trade: Indian High Commissioner Calls for Diversification with PNG
Photo credit: Embassy of India, Port Moresby Inbasekar Sundaramurthi, the Indian High Commissioner, has revealed that the bilateral trade between Papua New Guinea (PNG) and India currently amounts to approximately US$350 million (equivalent to about K1.2 billion). Sundaramurthi further stated that in the previous year, India's exports to PNG reached around US$70 million (approximately K247.8 million), while imports from PNG totaled approximately US$280 million (about K991.8 million). "PNG's exports to India is four times to one, and the balance of trade is in favor of India," Sundaramurthi highlighted. He expressed contentment with the existing trade partnership between the two nations and underscored the potential for diversifying bilateral trade beyond commodity supply, emphasizing the importance of downstream processing. "This means our bilateral trade can diversify into more areas instead of being a commodity supplier but assess downstream processing," Sundaramurthi explained during a press briefing. During the briefing, Sundaramurthi appealed to Richard Maru, the Minister for International Trade and Investment in PNG, requesting policy announcements that could be shared with Indian investors. He stressed the need to address the specific requirements of Indian investors, such as business safety, security, and investment protection, to create an attractive business environment. "Indian charity is different, and business is different because they need the safety of business, security, and investment. Such requirements should be put in place to attract investments in India," Sundaramurthi added. Sundaramurthi expressed his aspirations to facilitate the entry of Indian investors into Papua New Guinea, further strengthening the economic ties between the two nations. By nurturing an environment that meets the needs of Indian investors, the potential for expanded trade and investment between PNG and India can be realized. "We have been happy to trade with PNG as a country that is in partnership with them. We hope to bring Indian investors to PNG," Sundaramurthi concluded.
PNG Business News - May 31, 2023
Commissioner General Sam Koim Urges Thoughtful Implementation of Special Economic Zones
Photo: Commissioner General Sam Koim of the Internal Revenue Commission In a recent speech at the National Press Club event, Commissioner General Sam Koim of the Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) highlighted the importance of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in stimulating economic growth. However, he cautioned against hastily establishing SEZs throughout the country, emphasizing the need for careful monitoring. Koim proposed a strategic approach, advocating for the creation of one or two successful SEZs as models before replicating the concept elsewhere. Koim acknowledged the positive impact SEZs have had in various countries, while also recognizing instances where they have fallen short. He commended the government's proactive stance in promoting and encouraging SEZs, emphasizing their potential benefits for tax revenue and national development. Koim stressed the importance of precise implementation, noting several aspects that require careful consideration. "SEZ is a good concept. It has worked well in many countries and also faced challenges in others," Mr. Koim said. "It's encouraging that the government is promoting and supporting it." According to the IRC Commissioner General, simply offering tax holidays may not be sufficient to attract investors. He emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach, where investments in security, power infrastructure, transportation, and other related factors would complement the tax benefits. Koim stressed the necessity of incorporating diverse perspectives and strategies to optimize the effectiveness of SEZs. "When it comes to the tax holiday itself, it's not the main attraction. There are other factors to consider. If investors receive a tax holiday but the same amount is spent on security, power, and other attractions, I don't think it will attract business," Koim explained. "A range of views need to be taken into account." The government's commitment to facilitating investor attraction is commendable, and Koim emphasized the need for robust mechanisms to ensure the success of these initiatives. The IRC is actively collaborating with the SEZ committee, with one of Koim's commissioners serving on the SEZ Board. Their primary objective is to protect taxpayer funds while creating an environment conducive to attracting investments. "The government is on the right track by promoting ways to attract investors. However, we need various mechanisms to make it work," Koim affirmed. "We are working closely with the SEZ committee, and one of my commissioners is on the SEZ Board. We will ensure the protection of taxpayer funds."
PNG Business News - May 28, 2023
PNG's National Airline Air Niugini meets with Palau President
Photo: Front row, from left: Palau President, Surangel Whipps Jr (in blue shirt holding PX aircraft model) and his delegation met with ANG A/CEO, Gary Seddon and his executives in Port Moresby recently. Acting Air Niugini Chief Executive Officer, Mr Gary Seddon and his executives met with Palau President, Surangel Whipps Jr in Port Moresby over the weekend to deliberate on the current Air Niugini flights between PNG and Palau. Both parties expressed that there are further opportunities to explore to promote the sector, build interest and steadily grow passenger volumes. They further added that by connecting Pacific Islands to drive trade and tourism, it provides an opportunity for Air Niugini to strengthen its position as a regional airline, supporting the sixth freedom traffic which is the right or privilege of operating scheduled international air services via the home state of the carrier to move traffic between the two states. Mr Seddon said “ This is a fantastic opportunity for Air Niugini to participate in an invaluable initiative connecting people across the Pacific. We are honoured to have had the chance to share Air Niugini’s future plans with the President and his delegation. “ “This will further be underpinned by Air Niugini’s fleet replacement program.” Mr Seddon added The sector between PNG and Palau is supported by the Australian Government through an initiative to promote regional connectivity. The Air Niugini PNG/Palau flights commenced in February this year with weekly flights operating every Tuesday from Brisbane via Port Moresby and Koror (Palau). The Palau President and his delegation were in Port Moresby for the India Pacific Islands Co-operation forum, which ended last Monday.
PNG Business News - May 28, 2023
PNG and Malaysia to Consolidate Trade and Investment Relationship
Papua New Guinea and Malaysian Governments need to do more to build government-to-government and people-to-people relations between the two countries, says the Minister for International Trade and Investment, Hon Richard Maru. Minister Maru said this during his bilateral meeting with the Malaysian Deputy Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, His Excellency Liew Chin Tong at the margins of the APEC Trade Ministers Meeting in Detroit, United States. “Malaysia is the second biggest investor in Papua New Guinea in the non-renewable sector with over US$10 million investment and over 200 companies. In terms of trade, the total trade between the two countries stands at over K22 billion in 2021 and is expected to increase over time. This trade and investment relations is purely built on the private sector,” said Minister Maru. “There is a great opportunity for both countries to further enhance their existing bilateral relations by encouraging greater cooperation in trade and investment, including a possible Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (IPPA), a trade agreement and other technical cooperation, including the areas of education and digital trade,” said Minister Maru. The two Ministers agreed for senior officials to meet in July this year to discuss steps forward on the scope of the possible exchange visits by the Prime Ministers of both countries hopefully by the end of this year. “We are encouraged by Malaysian investors like WR Carpenters who are already in PNG and invested in manufacturing and shipping services and we want to see more investment from Malaysia in downstream processing of raw materials such as logs and timber products,” said Minister Maru. Minister Maru also informed Deputy Minister Tong that PNG Government had made the decision to ban round log export by 2025 and he invited Malaysian investors, especially those that have experience in global forestry product market to come and invest in this sector. “The agriculture and manufacturing industries in PNG have grasped the interest of the Malaysian investors and further extended the invitation to Malaysian investors to invest in PNG’s proposed SEZ sites. On other issues of bilateral cooperation, Minister Maru noted that Malaysian High Commission in Port Moresby had secured a piece of land in Port Moresby to build its Chancery, but it is yet to build its Office. “Similarly, Department of Foreign Affairs should commence discussion with their Malaysian counterpart for a reciprocal arrangement for the Government of Malaysia to allocate a piece of land for PNG High Commission Chancery to be built in Kuala Lumpur. This is necessary to enhance the PNG-Malaysia bilateral relations,” said Minister Maru. This will be one of the issues that will be discussed in the suggested Senior Officials Meeting between the two countries later in the year. Meanwhile, Minister Maru will visit Malaysia straight after the APEC meetings to meet with his counterpart Minister and potential investors who are interested in investing in coconut, palm oil, cattle, and manufacturing sector in PNG. Plans have advanced to a point where Minister Maru will be in Malaysia to finalize discussions for two new coconut oil refineries to be built in Madang and Kokopo this year so PNG will for the first time since independence cease exporting crude coconut oil from the oil mills in Madang and in Rabaul. “This exciting development will signal the start of the Marape Government’s efforts to downstream produce all our agriculture raw materials to final products to meet our own local demand and export to markets in other countries,” said Minister Maru.
PNG Business News - May 24, 2023
Central Provincial Government Presents a Cheque of K280,000 as counterpart funding for Rural Service Delivery Project
The Central Provincial Government has facilitated yesterday (18th of May, 2023) at Crown Hotel with a cheque of K280,000 for their 4 districts including their 5083 wards to help improve its communities access basic infrastructure and services through the Rural Service Delivery Project. The Rural Service Delivery Project is sanctioned and implemented by the Government of Papua New Guinea under the Department of Provincial and Local Government Affairs through World Bank's credit facility and the Australian Government's grant for a period of five years. Present to witness this ongoing 5 year project to become a reality where stakeholders including Member for Kikori and Minister for Department of Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs, Hon. Soroi Marepo Eoe and dignitaries from the Central Provincial Government and Department of Provincial and local Government Affairs. Central Governor Honorable Rufina Peter was pleased to see stakeholders present for the occasion and emphasized the importance of the RSD project which is a community oriented project involving the community to participate in basic services and infrastructure developments lacking in their community. "We are talking about taking back Papua New Guinea well this RSD Project is a community based initiative where communities take part in development by doing so we are leaving no one behind " said Governor Peter. Minister for Department of Provincial and local Government Affairs Honourable Soroi Eoe thanked the Central Provincial Government for taking the lead in the RSD project as Central Province was so far a successful recipient in previous projects received along with East New Britain Province, Chimbu Province and Western Province. "With the experience received by our madam governor for Central Province as a former project Manager for RSDP I believe that this counter funding will go a long way with the support of my ministry taking the lead in establishing key projects in the Central Province ", stated Hon. Soroi Eoe. Also present to give his support for the RSD project was Member for Rigo Honourable Ano Pala who pledge to make funding available for this project to become a reality under his district of Rigo in the Central Province. "I thank the Honourable Governor of Central Province in facilitating this great initiative and I as the member for Rigo pledge my support in working with the good Governor's office for vital projects in my district to become a reality" stated honourable Ano Pala. Koiari President Mr. Willie Wavi shared his experience in benefiting from the previous 5 year project with an establishment of a solar power project in the Koiri LLG which is now currently benefiting the people. "I am happy to witness this occasion and have benefited in the previous RSD Project all it takes is commitment and involving the community with an initial sweat equity contribution by the community,” said Mr. Wavi. All local Level ward councils in Central Province present at the occasion pledged their support in participating meaningfully by identifying key community based projects that will benefit their respective wards.
PNG Business News - May 24, 2023
Central Provincial Government Presents Cheques to Various Tertiary Institutions for Governor's 2023 Tuition Fees Support Program
Photo: Central Governor Hon. Rufina Peter with representatives of various tertiary institutions holding on to their check payments A timely step has been taken by the Central Provincial Government to relief Central Tertiary Students for its 2023 tuition fees totally at the cost of K3, 456 050 presented to various Tertiary Institutions in the country on Friday 19th of May, 2023 at the Crown Plaza Hotel. The Governor's Tuition support fee program is a first of its kind under the leadership of Central Governor Rufina Peter where investigative research had been carried out to roll out the program. "Human Resource Development is our first priority in the Central Province it is a valuable asset in equipping our people to contribute meaningfully in the Province development. "This is a first of its kind and we hope to improve well with students performance evaluated according to their GPA. "K2, 000 000 was taken out of Central Province Internal Revenue and K1, 456 050 from PIP funding hopefully we make an increase to provide K2, 000 per student but for now each student will receive K1,200 said Governor Rufina. Coordinator of Central Governor's Tuition Fees Support Program Mr. Paul Senkai commented that they had to to start from scratch in collecting data and making sure credible records were kept of students who were able to participate in the program. " We are more than happy to liase with the various Tertiary Institutions and make sure that our students perform well to continue on with their studies", said Mr. Senkai. The following representative of various Tertiary Institutions present were Datec Learning Centre, Port Moresby Business College, Asia Pacific College, Mapex Training Institute, Kumul Training Institute, International Training Institute and Highlands Youth Vocational. Other Tertiary Institutions absent on the occasion were University of Papua New Guinea open and main campus and University of Technology.
PNG Business News - May 24, 2023
PM Marape says Defence Cooperation Agreement with USA does not affect sovereignty of PNG
Prime Minister Hon. James Marape says the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) between the United States of America and Papua New Guinea does not in any way encroach into the sovereignty of the country. And he has assured Papua New Guineans that all aspects of the DCA will be made available to the public through a Parliamentary Statement that he will make. “I am working to release the agreement for public knowledge, and on Thursday this week, we will send the State Solicitor and Foreign Affairs and Defence Secretaries, to go through the DCA with students and interest groups to ensure they are informed correctly.” PM Marape said this during the historic signing of the DCA by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Minister Hon. Win Daki at APEC Haus in Port Moresby today (Monday, May 22, 2023). “This agreement in no way encroaches into our sovereignty,” PM Marape said. “We will, after this signing, inform all stakeholders and our citizens on all aspects of the agreement. “It will be transparent and shown to everyone who has an interest in it. “It in no way affects other defence cooperation agreements, defence relationships and bilateral relationships we already have with other countries. “This is a straight two-way highway between the Pentagon and Murray Barracks, between Washington and Waigani, between USA and PNG. “I am satisfied that this agreement will add value to and strengthen our economy going into the future.” PM Marape said the DCA would also strengthen US-PNG relations going into the future. “We have been important partners of the past,” PM Marape said. “Our shared bonds and experiences have kept our two nations together until 2023, when we elevate this, in as far as our defence cooperation is concerned. “We are elevating from what used to be a generic relationship under the 1989 Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) to a specific relationship with the United States people, government and defence force “Papua New Guinea has a Visiting Forces Act of 1975 which allows for these agreements to be entered into.” PM Marape said this law was born out of Section 206 of the Constitution and the DCA was done transparently and following proper processes. He said it was the result of many years of hard work by both countries. “It is mutually beneficial, and in the PNG context, secures our national interest as we grow into a robust economy in this part of the world,” he said. “I am very happy that we have reached this milestone and thank Secretary Blinken for his patience, as well as our State Solicitor, Department of Defence and Department of Foreign Affairs for their leadership. “We have similar DCAs with countries like Indonesia and Australia, and ask our citizens not to panic or fear unnecessarily, in the midst of much misinformation being circulated.”
Paul Oeka - May 24, 2023
European Union Signifies Role in PNG's Economy
Recently, the European Union Delegation in Papua New Guinea was delighted to have Prime Minister James Marape deliver a speech during the Europe Day reception on the 9th of May 2023 at the Lamana Hotel in Port Moresby. Ambassador Jacques Fradin, the Head of the EU Delegation to Papua New Guinea, stated in his speech: "Papua New Guinea continues to be a key partner for the EU's engagement with the Pacific against the background of a changing geopolitical context" "EU acknowledges PNG's prominent role as a lead negotiator for the Pacific region with ongoing negotiations with other Pacific Island nations". In his speech, Prime Minister Marape delivered a congratulatory address on behalf of the PNG Government and praised the excellent partnership and collaboration between the European Union and Papua New Guinea. The event was attended by diplomatic missions in PNG and representatives from both the PNG government and the private sector, including representatives from the civil society who joined the delegation at the official Europe Day Reception. Brief History of the European Union and its progress in PNG Since 1987 the European Union has been one of Papua New Guinea's biggest and oldest development partners and have enjoyed more than 40 years of partnership with the country. Papua New Guinea has received over K2 billion in grants as development support from the European Union through the European Development Fund (EDF). Further support has also been provided through dedicated programs in relation to issues such as Law and Order, Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and support to NGOs as well as community-based development projects throughout the country. The EU and its Member States are one of the largest donors of humanitarian aid and the biggest donor of international development aid in the world, providing around 50% of official development assistance to help overcome poverty and advance global development. Earlier this year, Ambassador Fradin stated the EU will spend more than K400 million in Papua New Guinea in the next three years. This grant is the largest in the Pacific and was one of the major dialogue agendas between EU and the PNG Government held in Port Moresby earlier this year. "The EU has spent over K2 billion on projects since 1987 and its not the money that counts but its what we do with the money, so in the next four years the EU will be spending almost K430 million on projects in the country which is the largest in the Pacific." "These are grants and they are not loans. We differ from other donors in PNG, if we invest, we invest for you. It is not about the money, it is what we build together and then you take over after", Ambassador Fradin said. EU's Projects and Programmes in PNG SUPPORT TO RURAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP INVESTMENT AND TRADE (STREIT) This Program is locally known as EU STREIT PNG and is based on the development priorities of Papua New Guinea. The EU's Support to Rural Entrepreneurship, Investment and Trade in Papua New Guinea aims to improve sustainable and inclusive economic development and job creation in the Momase Region. In 2020 the European Union started the implementation of the EU STREIT programme which is a rural development action designed to revitalise existing economic opportunities particularly on the value chain development of cocoa, vanilla and fisheries mostly in the Sepik region, with a specific focus on women and youth and climate change. EU-UNICEF National WaSH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Policy The European Union in partnership with UNICEF has continued to support the PNG Government's WaSH policy, the objective of which is to provide equitable access to safe, convenient and sustainable water supply and sanitation, and to promote improved hygiene practices and long-term hygiene behaviour change at the personal, household, community and institutional level particular to rural and urban settlement areas. Currently the 3-year 21.3 million euro EU-UNICEF water and sanitation project in Papua New Guinea is expected to benefit 160,000 people, including 40,000 children from 200 schools, 36 health centers and 800 neighboring communities in four Papua New Guinea districts. These include Hagen Central in Western Highlands Province, Goroka in Eastern Highlands, Naweab in Morobe, and Bougainville Central in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Additionally, the EU is also providing funding of K5.9 million to support Covid-19 response to access clean and safe water to vulnerable communities throughout the country. EU's Support to Education For the last 10 years, the European Union and the Government of Papua New Guinea has been actively supporting education, including technical and vocational training, in PNG with a total grant funding of approximately K160 million. One recent development is the construction of infrastructure and the supply of equipment to 10 Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) centres throughout PNG. In 2022 the EU-PNG partnership for good governance and transparency had also been discussed and the European Union had designed its first EU Grant budget support worth K100 million to be assured and used for good governance, justice, and anti-corruption. “Under the EU-PNG Partnership for Good Governance, the European Union allocated approximately 100 million Kina for actions aiming at promoting good governance and the respect of the rule of law. The European Union stands by the PNG Government to progress core reforms to strengthen law and order, including support to police who enforce anticorruption laws,” said the EU Delegation to PNG. European Union's Contribution to PNG's Business Sector One of the key benefits of EU membership is access to the single market, which allows for the free movement of goods, services, capital, and people within the EU. This has helped to boost trade and investment between member states, creating jobs and economic growth. The EU also provides funding for various projects and initiatives, such as research and development, infrastructure, and social programs.  Following the success of the previous three EU-PNG Business, Trade and Investment Conferences in 2019, 2021 and 2022, the Delegation of the European Union to PNG is likely to host another conference this year. The focus of the conference is to help increase business contacts, discover new business opportunities, and find new collaboration partners between the EU and PNG, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Timor-Leste, with particular attention to trade and investment aspects of sustainable development.  A practical dimension of the conference was how it concentrated on particular business sectors in PNG and the region and their development in a sustainable way. European Union Stresses Importance of Informal Economy In the context of Papua New Guinea, the urban informal sector is described as livelihood activities which include microenterprises or day-to-day livelihood activities such as selling, distributing, producing or manufacturing goods and providing services, either regularly or occasionally or on a needs basis and being carried out in unprescribed markets or areas such as streets, roadsides, in front of supermarkets or offices, at bus stops, and in yards of houses. The current review of the Informal Economy Policy is implemented under the Markets Economic Recovery and Inclusion (MERI) program with funding from the Government of Australia, and European Union. Recently during a panel discussion at the National Markets Convention in April 2023 held at the Apec house in Port Moresby, the European Union’s Policy Coordinator for Economy, Public Finance Management and Trade, Carlos Padilla Perez, noted that for the policy to have an impact on the livelihoods of the people of Papua New Guinea, stakeholder involvement was a key inclusion at the time of implementation. Perez noted that the common issue raised in all regional consultations “was the lack of implementation of the former informal economy policy, which is undergoing review. These issues of implementation must be addressed strongly in the revision of this policy". The EU’s ultimate goal is to build stronger political relations with PNG, and the entire Pacific region, while supporting good governance, security and sustainable development. References: 1) European Day Reception, 9th May 2023 Hosted by the EU delegation to PNG at the Lamana Hotel, Port Moresby (Attended) 2) The European Union and Papua New Guinea - EEAS /Eeas.europa.eu (Press Releases) https://www.eeas.europa.eu › europ... 3) Papua New Guinea: 5th high-level Political Dialogue with the European Union ... 27th February 2023| Eeas.europa.eu https://www.eeas.europa.eu › eeas https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.eeas.europa.eu/eeas/papua-new-guinea-5th-high-level-political-dialogue-european-union-takes-place_ 4) EMTV Online /European Union to Fund Ten Selected Vocational Training Centres in PNG – EMTV Online https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://emtv.com.pg/european-union-to-fund-ten-selected-vocational-training-centres-in-png/ 5) Papua New Guinea Today| Boost for Asset recovery and Corruption investigations in PNG 24 Nov 2022 https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://news.pngfacts.com/2022/11/boost-for-asset-recovery-and-corruption. 6) National Markets Conventions 2023... 19-21 April 2023, Apec Haus, Port Moresby (Attended 21 April) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1m0qpTnI-O-ECR_nfJqDiMmH58g2y5vLv/view
PNG Business News - May 22, 2023
Australia's Strong Investment Focus: Roads, Ports, and Electricity in Papua New Guinea
Photo: Senator Tim Ayres. Credit: Senator Tim Ayres Facebook Page Australia Assistant Minister for Trade and Manufacturing, Senator Tim Ayres, addressed the 38th Australia PNG Business Forum and Trade Expo, highlighting Australia's focus on investing in roads, ports, and electricity in Papua New Guinea (PNG). He stressed the importance of reliable infrastructure for uninterrupted travel, trade, and commerce within PNG. Senator Ayres pointed out the long-standing collaboration between Australia and Papua New Guinea in maintaining the national road network through the Australia PNG Transport sector program (TSSP). He noted that the TSSP, initiated in 2007, represents the largest bilateral program Australia has invested in within PNG's transport sector. The program has significantly improved the lives of the people of Papua New Guinea. "Australia is PNG's number one infrastructure partner, and these investments play a significant role in creating employment opportunities in these projects," stated Senator Ayres. He further emphasized the involvement of local companies in PNG, saying, "Most of Australian contracts go to local companies here in PNG. It isn't just a case of Australian workers arriving to do quick-built projects and buggering off with the profits." According to Senator Ayres, the focus extends beyond completing projects; it involves investing in local communities, providing training for young people, promoting entrepreneurship, creating opportunities, and building up the economy. The ultimate goal is to foster sustainable development and strengthen the partnership between Australia and PNG. Australia's dedication to infrastructure development in Papua New Guinea underscores its commitment to enhancing connectivity, stimulating economic growth, and improving the overall well-being of the people of PNG. Through these ongoing investments, Australia aims to forge a long-term partnership with PNG and contribute to the region's sustainable development.
PNG Business News - May 18, 2023
Imbalanced Trade Relations Highlighted at 38th Australia Papua New Guinea Business Forum and Trade Expo
Photo credit: Australia Papua New Guinea Business Council Hon. Richard Maru, Minister for International Trade and Investment, in his keynote address on the 16th of May at the 38th PNG-Australia Business Forum and Trade Expo at Hilton Hotel Port Moresby, said Papua New Guinea's trade was always in favor towards Australia. “For the last 47 years, trade has been in favour of Australia; that has been the status quo. PNG’s exports to Australia are gold and other precious metals, which comprise over 98% of total exports. This means less than 2% are from the non-extractive sector and are valued at about K50 million per annum,” he said. Australia’s total exports to PNG are estimated at over K1.5 billion, which translates to a ratio of 1 to 10 -- a very huge trade imbalance. In terms of investment, Australia has invested AU$24 billion in PNG, while PNG invested AU$ 4 billion in real estate,” said Minister Maru. “Australia has been using its very stringent technical barriers and biosecurity to make it very difficult for PNG to export its taro, sweet potato, fish, and other food products to Australian market. So as far I as the Minister for International Trade and Investment is concerned, there is no need for us to talk about a trade agreement,” he added. “There is no need to talk about Placer Plus or even a study on a Free Trade Agreement between our countries. There is no point when the trade and investment imbalance is so big and so skewed to Australia and unlikely to be reduced in the foreseeable future,” said Minister Maru. The minister encouraged Australian businesses to seriously canvas more new and emerging business opportunities in PNG and seek to partner with local SMEs and PNG-owned companies in their business endeavours. On the other hand, Australian Senator the Hon. Tim Ayers, Assistant Minister for Trade and Assistant Minister for Manufacturing, in his keynote address said Australia is proud to be Papua New Guinea's largest economic, security, and development partner, with two-way trade reaching $5 billion in 2021-2022. "Trade isn't just about commercial benefits, it's also about dealing with big challenges, building capacity to meet international market standards, and creating businesses that deliver good local jobs,” he said. “Australia is proud to support Papua New Guinean companies and reach their potential by elevating the quality of production to meet international market standards and establish commercial links with Australia and New Zealand,” said Senator Ayres. A testament to Australia's commitment is the PHARMA Plus program, where the Queen Emma Chocolate Factory received expert training and technical expertise in producing international-standard products certified to the Australian and New Zealand Markets as outlined by Senator Ayers. Regarding trade, Ms. Jane Ravusiro, Advocate for Sustainable & Inclusive Agriculture Growth & Livelihoods for Abt Associates Australia, commented that the Papua New Guinea market was not viable with strict security protocols, and that the Australian market was structured differently. An example of this barrier of trade put into picture was a presentation made by Mr. Navin Raju, Chief Executive Officer for City Pharmacy Limited, who gave an account of CPL's work in Papua New Guinea, especially in engaging local farmers in the agriculture sector to better equip them in selling their produce. He explained there was no proper market access available from the farmers’ end to the buyers and that relevant stakeholders and authorities should work together in making sure Papua New Guinea's agriculture produce does reach Australia. “When I go to the Australian markets, I usually see taro from Tonga or Fiji. How about PNG and why can't our taro reach Australian Markets?” said Mr. Raju. The forum showed Papua New Guinea and Australia's perspective on how each country had a different type of business environment and a dire need to address outstanding technical and political issues regarding trade.
PNG Business News - May 18, 2023
Biden Cancels Visit to Papua New Guinea
United States President Joe Biden has canceled his visit to Papua New Guinea, citing the need to focus on debt limit talks in Washington. While security arrangements for other leaders, including India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, were already in place, Biden's visit has been called off. He was scheduled to arrive in Port Moresby on Monday afternoon, sign important agreements during his three-hour visit, and then proceed to Sydney, Australia, to attend the Quad leaders meeting. In a statement released by the White House on Tuesday, it was emphasised that the cancellation was necessary for Biden to address the pressing issue of the debt limit in Congress. The President called upon members of both the Republican and Democratic parties to unite and prevent a default. The US embassy in Port Moresby will provide information about which senior US official will visit PNG to sign the key agreements on behalf of the President. Despite the cancellation of Biden's visit, Internal Security Minister Peter Tsiamalili Jr confirmed that security planning and preparations would continue. He assured that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit was still on schedule and that security measures would be maintained accordingly. Tsiamalili clarified that the closure of the country's airspace would only be implemented if President Biden had come. Assistant Police Commissioner Anthony Wagambie Jr, responsible for National Capital District and Central, will oversee the operational side of the security exercise. The Defense Force, Correctional Services, and Fire Services will also be involved in ensuring the safety of the visiting leaders. The White House's statement emphasised the importance of revitalising and reinvigorating alliances and partnerships like the Quad. While the cancellation of Biden's visit is a setback, the United States remains committed to engaging with Australia, the Quad, PNG, and the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum to promote global stability and prosperity in the coming year.
Paul Oeka - May 15, 2023
PNG's SEZ Summit Highlights Importance of Global Best Practices to Drive Investments
Photo: Prime Minister Hon. James Marape, speaking during the recent PNG Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Summit 2023. Photo credits: International Trade and Investment Ministry of PNG Ways to increase competitiveness through global best practices and drive economic growth were the main high in Papua New Guinea's Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Summit as well as key challenges in PNG and around the world which were discussed by policy makers, industry players, and experts when the Summit was held at the Stanley Hotel in Port Moresby on May 7th-9th 2023. The impetus in hosting Papua New Guinea's first ever historical Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Summit started on a high note and progressed well as the country played host to this very important international summit when the Prime Minister James Marape, officially opened the summit on, Sunday May 7, 2023.  The summit was hosted by the Marape Government through the Department of International Trade and Investment under the Coordination of PNG's Trade and Investment Minister Richard Maru, highlighting the importance of economic growth at the forefront of the country's SEZs development to enhance PNG’s competitiveness to drive more investment, increase economic growth and achieve the country’s sustainability commitments in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Nationally Determined Contribution. Governmental representatives and special economic zone (SEZ) leaders from different countries gathered in Port Moresby for the Summit as Speakers stressed the significance of SEZs in catalysing a country’s economic growth through attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). During the Summit, the country's officials were keen to promote the development of the country's identified SEZs, and also had significant panel discussions on how the SEZs development may attribute to the growth in PNG's economy. The two-day summit included definition of SEZs, update on global performance of SEZs right across the world as well as country presentation by countries who have successfully transformed their economies through SEZs, how they were successful, and what SEZs have failed and why.  The summit learned from the experiences of the countries who have tapped into SEZs, such as China, Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Gabon, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The summit featured keynote speeches, panel discussions, and interactive sessions covering various topics such as SEZ policies, investment opportunities, and infrastructure development. It also provided a platform to discuss best practices and key lessons learned from international policy makers and expert practitioners including from India, China, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Bangladesh, and International Finance Corporation (IFC) The country's business sector also was a huge inclusion as the event provided a medium for businesses to showcase their products and services to a diverse audience of investors, government officials, and industry professionals with a total of over 400 delegates all over the country including international speakers as well as 50 booths for the summit sponsors that were setup inside the Stanley Hotel for the sponsors to showcase their brands and merchandises during the course of the summit to serve as information booths for the participating delegates.  Day-one brief of SEZ Summit On the first day of the summit on Monday 08 May 2023, the summit defined and learned about countries who have gone into SEZ and the key factors that have made them to be successful and why many others have not succeeded so Papua New Guinea (PNG) can learn from the experience of the other countries who have succeeded. Minister Maru alluded that “SEZ started in PNG at Malahang Industrial Park - Lae, Free Trade Zone (FTZ) - Vanimo, Pacific Maritime Industrial Zone (PMIZ) – Madang and Konebada Petroleum Park have not been successfully developed. SEZs have been here in PNG for over 30 years, and we have failed. PNG has to learn from our own mistakes and also the mistakes of other countries and also learn from the success of this time under the Marape Government’s drive to give SEZs a new lease of life following the successful enactment of the 2019 SEZ legislation, we need to now make it work." "Despite the legislation and the establishment of the Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZA), we still don’t have a Policy, we don’t have a Master plan and Development plans for SEZs. With this summit now, it will help us learn from other countries on how they have made theirs work, the benefits of SEZs including creation of thousands and millions of new jobs and billions and trillions of new foreign direct investments and how PNG must now follow a new road map to successfully develop SEZs in PNG and enjoy similar benefits." "The Marape Government has given one (1) SEZ license already to Paga Hill SEZ and we are hoping that after the summit another four (4) or five (5) more would be identified and developed. We don’t want this SEZ Summit to be another talk feast, we want to learn and start working on more and more SEZs as the key driver for economic growth," Minister Maru added.  Overall, we all agreed that despite our failures over the past 30 years, with the support from our many partners including the Japanese Development Institute, and the SEZ Authority of the Philippines, PNG can build more SEZs and succeed with the lessons learned from the other very successful countries. Significant Expertise Insight Among the dignitaries in attendance at the summit was the Japanese Development Institute (JDI), a think tank with more than 40 years of experience in the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) around the world, who shared their evaluation on what went wrong and what must be done in creating a pathway for SEZ Development in Papua New Guinea.  JDI Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Dr Shoichi Kobayashi said PNG’s attempt to developed SEZs failed due to a lack of a proper regulatory framework, including an SEZ policy to guide its development. "There was no technical capacity to implement SEZ programs with qualified management and staffs to operate,” Dr Kobayashi noted, and “No SEZ Master Plan and no road map to follow," PNG’s experience in SEZs include the ‘industrial centers’ concept – Malahang in Lae, Morobe province and Ulaveo in Kokopo, East New Britain province; Free Trade Zone Act 2000 for West Sepik, Western, Gulf, Bougainville; Pacific Maritime Industrial Zone (PMIZ) and Konebada Petroleum Park. The JDI last year visited more than 15 of the proposed Special Economic Zones in the country assessing and evaluated their potential and will be presenting to the government the country’s first draft master plan, which will be used as a roadmap for PNG going into the SEZ concept of economic development.  Dr Kobayashi also highlighted the strengths and weaknesses and where PNG as a country can improve.  Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea will commence the Special Economic Zone journey with six urgent potential zones in the country. Chairman of Japan Development Institute Dr. Shoichi Kobayashi announced this during the third day of the SEZ Summit 2023.  Dr. Kobayashi said the top six potential Special Economic Zones will come into effect soon once the Master Plan is complete. They are the Central Industrial Park, Paga Hill Waterfront Tourism SEZ, Central Province Rice SEZ, Sepik Plain Agro Special Economic Zone, Pomio Special Agro Economic Zone, and Central Logging SEZ.  Dr. Kobayashi said land and infrastructure, like roads and electricity, are crucial to delivering SEZs in the county.  Day-two brief of SEZ Summit On the second day of the summit PNG presented its drafts of policy framework SEZ Masterplan, SEZ development Strategy, revised SEZ legislation, and amendments to the current SEZ Act.  "Everything that we will present will be draft versions. We will workshop these drafts so everyone who attends the Summit will have the chance to provide their input," Minister for International Trade and Investment, Richard Maru said. “Our people and all the delegates were educated on what SEZs are and the fact that this is a development vehicle that has worked in many developing countries in creating millions of jobs and bringing billions and trillions in foreign direct investments. Papua New Guinea is such a blessed nation where we have so much potential as confirmed by the various speakers during the summit.”  “We are working to finalise the PNG SEZ policy, a comprehensive revised regulatory framework, and the 10-year SEZ Development Plan. We will conclude these three key policy documents and present it to the Government by June 2023.” “We still need a lot of help from international partners like the SEZ Authorities in Philippines, China, Indonesia, and others whom we have already started critical relationships with during the summit. We are already in negotiations with countries for possible grant aid to assist the Ministry of International Trade and Investment and the SEZ Authority to develop the technical capacity to drive the SEZ agenda and deliver no less than 6 licensed SEZs and get them operational by the end of 2023.” “One key immediate challenge is the mobilization of our customary land, and we need the Department of Lands and Physical Planning to have an office and structure set up to support landowners to get bankable state titles of their own land using the successful Tuhava Town model, so the landowners can be partners in the SEZ development.” The Marape-Rosso Government, through the Ministry of International Trade and Investment is targeting to deliver 6 SEZs this year who must secure licensee from the SEZ Authority on merit. The “lowest hanging fruits” are Rigo Rice, Central Manufacturing Zone, which is being developed by KPHL, Lae Port SEZ which is being developed by PNG Ports, PMIZ in Madang and the log processing SEZ in the Central Province. We are also keen to see the Central Limestone SEZ project start this year. We will focus on these, and we will also work to progress other SEZs around the country. Now that everyone has been educated during the summit on the licensing conditions to obtain an SEZ Licenses from the regulator, the SEZ Authority, we will work with the potential SEZs to meet the license conditions. SEZ's MASTER PLAN IN MOTION A Master Plan for Special Economic Zones in Papua New Guinea will be drafted in the next four weeks. Minister for International Trade and Investment Richard Maru said this during the close of the Special Economic Zone Summit He said this will include identifying necessary amendments to the Special Economic Zone Act 2019. As much as the Government wants to see the SEZ concept be market driven and not politically influenced, Minister Maru said a wider consultation will be carried out with people, especially landowners. The SEZ Summit 2023 ended with presentations of crucial enablers in the areas of land, law and order, infrastructure like roads, telecommunications, and ports, among others, that will assist in the success of SEZs going forward. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Lands, Physical Planning and Urbanization Hon. John Rosso said there is potential for customary land to be mobilized for Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in the country.  Speaking during the closing ceremony of the two-day SEZ Summit in Port Moresby, Mr Rosso said SEZ’s "are a great way to attract direct foreign investments and also create job opportunities for the people." "SEZ provides a platform for businesses to operate in a more efficient and cost-effective manner and also provide a great opportunity for our citizens to benefit from the economic growth that comes with foreign investment, and it has to be done properly, learning from other experiences and failures," Hon. Rosso said. Highlights of Minister Maru's speech In his keynote address, PNG’s minister of international trade and industry, Richard Maru stressed the necessity of effectively managing an SEZ to boost a country’s competitiveness. Citing PNG’s ambitions to become a mature economy by 2050, Mr Maru said: "The past couple of years have been challenging, [however] PNG has done well. We are now on a very exciting journey, and SEZs will play a very important role. The setting up of an SEZ is a much-contested model. While there may be differing views on what are the key drivers in the sustainability of SEZs, to succeed there must be political stability in the overall operating environment, consistency in the regulatory environment, and a sound infrastructure. These [are] the basic templates that SEZs require." Alluding to the 16 SEZs identified in PNG, Mr Maru said: "We have been working hard to improve the business environment and we are in the midst of implementing our economic programme. It is important that we succeed in services and in the knowledge-based sector. The SEZs of South-east Asian Nations are some of the fastest growing SEZs in the world. "The policy of the government is to spread out development to cover every [region] and going forward we are going to be more aggressive in attracting investments, in line with our objective of ensuring dynamic socio-economic development across provinces." ICTs role in SEZs The Information and Communications Technology Minister, Hon Timothy Masiu, and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary, Mr Steven Matainaho, also attended the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) summit. They met and sat with the host Minister, Hon. Richard Maru, and participated in discussions about the development of SEZs in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The presence of Minister Masiu and Secretary Matainaho at the SEZ Summit demonstrates the government's commitment to promoting economic growth and development using Information and Communications Technology.  The officials' attendance at the event provided them with an opportunity to engage with industry experts, network with peers, and explore potential business partnerships. The attendance of Minister Masiu and Secretary Matainaho at the summit is an indication of the government's commitment to utilizing the power of ICT to drive economic growth and development in PNG.  Expected outcomes The delegates who attended the summit will have a unique opportunity to contribute to the SEZ Policy, the Master Plan, the Legal Framework and gain insights on the speeches not only from international speakers but also on potential SEZs in Papua New Guinea and important local SEZ development partners. Papua New Guinea's new journey to achieve economic transformation has started and the country is looking forward to successfully delivering the outcomes of the summit and importantly to see a new wave of billions of kina of new investments from both local and international investors. The conference concluded that a committed focus on the quality of economic growth is fundamental to drive investment and to fully realize a country’s economic potential. References: 1) Published presentations given during the SEZ summit on the Ministry of International trade and Investment Website....| Website: www.miti.gov.pg FB Page : https://www.facebook.com/Ministry Of International Trade And Investment PNG 2) Wohi. L | Post Courier May 9th 2023 Publication. BUSINESS, Expert Explains Why SEZs In PNG Fail....| https://postcourier.com.pg/expert-explains-why-sezs-in-png-fail/ 3) Department of Information and Communications Technology Press Releases from SEZ summit..| https://www.ict.gov.pg/
Paul Oeka - May 15, 2023
A Look Into Biden's Pivotal Visit to PNG
Geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific region Looking at the Indo-Pacific region, observers came to realise that creating ties to it was quite a significant bilateral topic for developed democracies before Russia invaded Ukraine. Suddenly, these global economies shifted preferences and drew all their attention back to Europe. Within this period when concentration had shifted, most asserted that the Indo-Pacific region was doing better, but reports have shown that Chinese dominance was consistent yet going unnoticed through maritime incursions and unnecessary military drills, all happening in the shadow of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Over several decades, China has become a substantial source of trade, aid, and infrastructure for developing Pacific Island countries, as it seeks to isolate Taiwan diplomatically and build its own set of global institutions.  Biden’s visit to PNG But later this month, US President Joe Biden is travelling to Papua New Guinea. This will be an historic event as it showcases the first United States leader to grace the shores of PNG since the Pacific nation gained independence. Biden is stopping by Papua New Guinea for several hours on his way to Australia later this month, official and media reports have said, to highlight a renewed US commitment to the Pacific after inroads by China.  Biden will be attending the Pacific Islands Forum in PNG, where 18 leaders of the region will join the leaders of Australia and New Zealand. Interestingly, Papua New Guinea will also host India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi from May 22 to 23, according to PNG's foreign minister Justin Tkatchenko.  In a front-page report on PNG's Post Courier, the newspaper stated that Biden would visit the capital of Port Moresby for three hours in May, without giving a specific date. But an official in the Papua New Guinea prime minister’s office confirmed that May 22 is the expected date of the visit if it goes ahead.  While this looms as a step forward for PNG, critics have had their say, lashing out that this should show us something about the neglect of the US towards Pacific Island nations over the years. The South Pacific was seen as a relative diplomatic backwater after World War II, but it is an increasingly important arena for powers to compete for commercial, political, and military influence -- and could prove vital in any possible military conflagration over Taiwan, Agence France-Presse reported. Last month, US special envoy Joseph Yun said the United States was playing "catch-up" after years of relative neglect in which China's influence soared across the South Pacific. "Let's face it, it is strategic competition between China and us," he told the Hudson Institute. "Have we neglected the Pacific? The answer is yes.... We are trying to correct that quite a bit." China recently signed a secretive security pact with Solomon Islands, east of Papua New Guinea, that could allow Chinese troops to be deployed or based there. And a state-backed Chinese company won a contract in March to develop the international port in the capital Honiara, a major victory in Beijing's quest to gain a strategic toehold in the South Pacific. Biden's trip may also put the finishing touches on a US-Papua New Guinea Defence Cooperation Agreement that would allow more joint training and the development of security infrastructure. Washington is also working to establish a joint naval facility at Lombrum on PNG's Manus Island. China, however, has been playing the long game in the region, and has now become the biggest bilateral lender in the Pacific, much bigger than America and Australia. It had been funding major projects throughout the region -- roads, airstrips, ports, strategic assets with civilian, business, and military uses to which China has an investment in all aspects of this sectors.  China's current dominance in PNG Over several decades, China has become a significant source of trade, business, infrastructure, and aid for PNG. In November 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Papua New Guinea for several days when Port Moresby hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. China also funded much of the infrastructure for the summit, such as new roads and the APEC conference center. Earlier this year China had raised concerns about a proposed security agreement between Papua New Guinea and Australia, which has grown cold to its erstwhile biggest trade partner. PNG's former foreign affairs minister Justin Tkatchenko confirmed this in a press conference as he returned home from his official visit to China seeking development assistance for PNG.  Tkatchenko stated that the Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang had raised China’s concerns on the proposed PNG-Australia Bilateral Security Treaty and its intended purposes when the two counterparts met. Tkatchenko said: "Qin was seeking reassurances that the purported bilateral security arrangement with Australia was not in some way seeking to counter China’s influence in PNG and the Pacific." Tkatchenko’s statement during the conference highlighted the balancing act for Pacific Island countries as China and the United States vie for influence in the vast ocean region.  Last year China had pushed for even greater influence through an extensive security pact with 10 Pacific nations. Reports said it would have given China military bases in the region and even allowed them to deploy troops. PNG along with other Pacific nations rejected it, and that might have given Biden some hope to cement the superpower's presence in the region.  What is to be expected? In fact, Joe Biden's Pacific pivot started last year when he hosted Pacific leaders in the White House in September as part of efforts to counter China's influence in the region. During the meeting, the US President pledged financial aid and dispatched his Vice President Kamala Harris on a tour of the Pacific region. But now that he himself is on the job, the question remains if the newly established and forged relations will be enough for the US to cement its dominance in the region. Critics have pointed out that Biden must be willing to commit to two main bilateral aspects. Firstly, the US must commit to all financial aid that have been pledged towards the region as most small Pacific Islands need help to fight climate change, as it’s an existential threat for them and they need millions of dollars in investments to tackle it.  Secondly, Biden needs to build a broad coalition, as the US alone cannot convince the Pacific region, but a broader alliance of democracies can -- which is why Indian PM Modi's presence can be a gamechanger.  Over the years, many small Pacific Island nations have been let down by the US, Australia, and New Zealand, but India's inclusion may be different as it is a member of the so-called Global South and is now on the high table. India's lessons and skills could be a key for the Pacific region, and in return it will be able to get some valuable diplomatic support, as every vote counts at the United Nations and the Pacific Forum alone has 18 votes. All these meetings will conclude at the Opera House in Sydney where the Quad Leaders’ Summit will be held this year. The White House has said Biden will take part in a G7 leaders’ summit in Japan from May 19-21 and attend the May 24, Quad Leaders’ summit in Sydney with the leaders of Australia, Japan, and India. References: 1) E-International Relations| The Emergence of the Indo-Pacific: Geopolitical Turn or Continuity? April 11 2023 https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.e-ir.info/2023/04/11/the-emergence-of-the-indo-pacific-geopolitical-turn-or-continuity 2) PNG Report 30th April 2023 https://www.pngreport.com › news Biden to visit Port Moresby in May 3) Post Courier May 1st 2023/ by Keneath. G https://postcourier.com.pg › envoy-...Envoy: Biden visit significant for PNG 4) Australian Financial Review Jan 12, 2023 https://www.afr.com › World › Asia The upside for PNG in Australia's and China's Pacific rivalry 5) US Indo-Pacific Strategy is Widely Criticized scspi.org| http://www.scspi.org › dtfx › us-ind... 6) The White House (.gov) https://www.whitehouse.gov › state... Statements and Releases Archives