In brief: China and Papua New Guinea strengthen commercial ties and other business stories


Papua New Guinea can now export seafood directly to mainland China, the World Bank projects GDP growth in South East Asia and the Pacific region to fall to 0.5 per cent and an agriculture project is set to transform Eastern Highlands province. The news you need to kickstart your week.

Xue Bing, Lino Tom, Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources, attended the launching ceremony of the implementation of the Protocol on Inspection, Quarantine and Veterinary Sanitary Requirements for Wild Marine Fishing Aquatic Products, which allowed direct export of PNG fishing products to China. Credit: Chinese Embassy in PNG/Facebook


The Eastern Highlands Provincial government has signed a K44.85 billion Memorandum of Agreement with McKinley Asia-PNG Limited to transform agriculture and livestock in the province. The funds will be divided between Phase 1 (pilot project) and Phase 2 (Feasibility and construction of various projects, including an Incubation Agriculture Institute). The project could provide jobs for 500,000 people. (Post Courier)


After the launch of the Protocol on Inspection, Quarantine and Veterinary Sanitary Requirements for Wild Marine Fishing Aquatic Products, PNG can now export seafood directly to mainland China. The Chinese Ambassador to PNG, Xue Bing, said that there’s the possibility of a free trade agreement between both countries. He reportedly said: ‘We have a lot of work to do in the future, we are talking to each other regarding the signing of a possible free trade agreement. The trade between China and PNG stands at about K10 billion, ‘but there is still space to increase,’ said Xue. (The National)


The Chinese Embassy in PNG has invited 77 local fishing companies to the third annual China International Import Expo in Shanghai, China, which is scheduled to take place in November and will be attended by over 100 countries. Bing reportedly said: ‘I think after the pandemic the economic and trade relations between China and PNG will become even closer.’ (The National)

Economy and finance

In its June 2020 Global Prospects series, the World Bank projects that GDP growth in South East Asia and the Pacific region will fall to 0.5 per cent, down from 5.9 per cent in 2019 and 5.2 percentage points lower than previously forecasted. Regional growth, however, is expected to begin a slow recovery process during the second half of 2020. The report says that ‘although subject to significant uncertainty, regional growth is expected to rebound to 6.6 per cent in 2021.’ (World Bank)


Digicel dishes in PNG. Credit: BAI

Digicel has announced that the debt reduction process that it announced in April this year is expected to be completed next week. The company reduced debt by about $1.6 billion and lowered annual cash interest by approximately $125 million. It’s been reported that the debt reduction process has left Digicel ‘well positioned for future growth’.

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To increase awareness and understanding of insurance policies in PNG, where less than 5 per cent of the population has an active insurance policy, the Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion, PNG Insurance Council and partners will run PNG’s first nationwide inclusive insurance awareness campaign from August to September this year. (The National)


The abandoned Panguna copper mine. Credit: SMH

In its Annual General Meeting, Sir Mel Togolo, Bougainville Copper Limited‘s (BLC) Managing Director, said the mine redevelopment study conducted last year suggested that a ‘staged redevelopment approach may be a viable’ option for the mine. Uncertainty, however, remains ‘with the Judicial Review of ABG’s decision to refuse an extension of our Exploration Licence (EL1) expected to proceed in the PNG National Court this year’. BCL reported a consolidated loss of K8.6 million for 2019; the company remains debt free. (BCL)


Chiefs from 28 haus tambaran (spirit houses) in the Sepik region have issued a collective Supreme Sukundimi Declaration, a document calling for a ‘total ban on the Frieda river mine’. PanAust, an ASX miner owned by Guangdong Rising Asset Management, is behind the proposed Frieda river mine project. The gold, silver and copper mine would the largest in the country and one of the largest in the world. (The Guardian)


Fitch Ratings has placed Zijin Mining Group ‘BBB-‘ Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) and ‘BBB-‘ senior unsecured rating on Rating Watch Negative (RWN). Zijin Mining is Barrick’s partner in the Porgera Joint Venture. According to Fitch: ‘Zijin’s appetite for resource expansion and aggressive acquisition strategy have led to unpredictable changes in the company’s business profile and volatile financial metrics in the near term, which we believe is no longer in line with its ‘BBB-‘ rating.’ (Fitch Ratings)


The Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) continues its price surveillance exercise around PNG and has given 13 infringement notices to five retailers at Maprik and 14 in Wewak town for increasing prices of certain food items between 5.5 and 25 per cent. (LOOP)


Governor General Sir Bob Dadae has confirmed the appointment of David Manning as Controller of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The appointment is effective as of 17 June and, following the appointment, Manning issued seven National Pandemic Measures.( LOOP)


Papua New Guinea has reported its first case of COVID-19 since the state-of-emergency was lifted last week. The 44-year-old person is a foreign national and it’s been reported that they are now in isolation. (RNZ)

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