APEC planning on track says CEO

Chris Hawkins, Chief Executive Officer of the APEC PNG Co-ordination Authority believes sceptics about Papua New Guinea’s ability to host APEC will be proven wrong. The policy areas that will be emphasised are digitisation, improving connectivity, creating sustainable and inclusive growth, and implementing structural reform.

APEC Haus under construction in Port Moresby.  Credit: Business Advantage International

Hawkins told a resources conference in Port Moresby last month that there have been persistent doubts about whether PNG can host events.

‘Every time we have had that scepticism, it has been proven wrong.

‘It raises the profile of the nation and of the country.’

‘Business people who are not aware of PNG before will be more aware.’

Hawkins said foreign direct investment will increase as a result of the APEC meeting. He said governments will bring in K200 million for the meeting.

‘Business people who are not aware of PNG before will be more aware. It is a legacy that lasts well beyond the meeting.’

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Roads

The APEC Co-ordination Authority’s Chris Hawkins

Hawkins said some of the logistical challenges will be simpler in Port Moresby than they have been in other, larger cities.

‘We are not a big, sprawling metropolis. We don’t have to have a big motorcade to deal with and a large population. It is an uncomplicated road network.’

Hawkins said there will need to be 500-600 hotel rooms and cruise ships will house other delegates. It will also be necessary to upgrade parking spaces at the airport.

‘We want to have a legacy so that, when APEC is done, a lot of what is left over is functional and useful.’

Hawkins said there will be an effort to have only a minimal impact on business.

‘The sectors that will get particular attention will be: food security, gender sensitivity, forestry and fisheries.’

‘The core meetings will be on the weekend and the security corridor won’t overtake the city.’

Policy

Ivan Pomaleu, PNG’s Ambassador to APEC, said the policy areas that will be addressed will have ‘three pillars’.

These are: improving connectivity, creating sustainable and inclusive growth, and achieving structural reform.

He said the sectors or issues that will get particular attention will be: food security, gender sensitivity, forestry and fisheries.

‘You are going to have a lot of disruption.’

‘We will try to build sector specific initiatives that bring some of our all-important issues to life—bringing a PNG-based slant to it,’ said Pomaleu.

He said he hoped the APEC discussions will have a bearing on PNG’s domestic policy and ‘reset some of the thinking we need to have’.

Pomaleu said there would also be a focus on small and medium enterprises.

Digitalisation

Wayne Golding, member of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), said that another area of focus would be the acceleration of the digital economy.

He said the digitalisation economy ‘is now here and it is going to be here for 30 years’.

‘That means you are going to see a massive expansion in innovation. You are going to have a lot of disruption.’

ABAC’s Wayne Golding

‘If we don’t embrace it, engage with it and get on with it we are in trouble.’

Golding said the fear is that digitalisation will widen the gap between the emerging economies and developed economies.

‘This widening of the gap is going to cause more social disruption.

‘It is very important for Papua New Guinea because Papua New Guinea, amongst the 21 countries, would have the least developed digitalisation program.

‘If we don’t embrace it, engage with it and get on with it we are in trouble.

‘You have to have a capital budget to bridge that gap. We should not try to do what is happening now because by the time we fix it up we are going to be another seven years behind.’

The aim of capital expenditure, he said, is to invest in what is ‘going to happen in 10 to 15 years’ time’.

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