Five questions for … Tim Harcourt, the ‘Airport Economist’


We put five quick questions to international economist Tim Harcourt, who will visit Papua New Guinea next month for the 2013 Papua New Guinea Advantage investment summit.

Tim_Harcourt_emailBusiness Advantage PNG: The global resources boom appears to have come to an end, at least temporarily. How worried should mineral-producing countries like PNG be?

Tim Harcourt: The death of the minerals boom has been somewhat exaggerated. Things are slowing a bit, but it won’t come to a screaming halt. The long term trends will still create demand for energy.

BAPNG: Asia has driven global growth over the past quarter of a century. Can we count on it for the next 25 years?

TC: It’s more about urbanisation than globalisation—particularly in the cities of China and India.

‘Being pro-market is more important than being pro-business.’

There’s plenty more left in the tank, but I would expect services to now play an important role—particularly from Australia, and particularly as the second- and third-tier cities of China get further developed.

BAPNG: You travel extensively in your work as an economist. Which developing countries are impressing you in terms of their pro-business economic policies and approach to development?

TC: I think countries that have open economies and transparent democratic institutions work best. Being pro-market is more important than being pro-business, and having strong social safety nets matters too.

BAPNG: If you had a sizeable fortune to invest yourself (perhaps you do!), in what economic sectors would you be investing (e.g. agribusiness, construction, services, mining etc) for the future?

TC: There’s more chance of finding the Tasmanian Tiger than me becoming rich but fortunately I am member of one of Australia’s excellent superannuation funds and they invest in all the sectors named above.

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BAPNG: What are you looking forward to most about your visit to PNG for September’s PNG Advantage Summit?

The chance to meet the wonderful people of PNG and get some extra ideas for my new book in ‘The Airport Economist’ series, which will include a brand new chapter on PNG.

Airport-Economist-Cover1Tim Harcourt is a professional economist specialising in international trade and labour economic issues in the Asia Pacific region and in emerging economies.

He will be a keynote speaker at the Papua New Guinea Advantage 2013, PNG’s annual investment summit. The summit takes place on 9 and 10 September 2013 in Port Moresby.