Opinion: the prospects for business in Port Moresby for 2019 and beyond


The nation’s capital is entering 2019 in good shape after hosting APEC at the end of last year, says Rio Fiocco, President of the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He considers the prospects for business over the next 12 months and beyond.

POMCCI’s Rio Fiocco

Last year, Port Moresby really benefited from the city hosting nearly all of the APEC meetings, which culminated in the Leader’s Summit which was held at APEC House on 17th and 18th of November.

The hotels that looked after our international visitors—as well as the caterers, hire car companies, transport service providers, motor vehicle dealers—all benefited from APEC.

Port Moresby city was also a big beneficiary, with the Chinese Government paying to reseal the whole Poreporena Freeway, as well as build the new Independence Boulevard from Waigani Drive to Parliament Haus.

The construction sector benefited from the building works undertaken at the International Convention Centre, the Hilton Hotel and the Kutubu Convention Centre—as well as APEC Haus and the much improved foreshore works at Ela Beach.

Businesses, as well as residents and visitors, are now enjoying the benefits of driving on these new roads and swimming and playing at the Ela Beach recreation park.

Port Moresby now boasts a number of quality convention centres like the ICC at Waigani, APEC Haus and the Kutubu Convention Centre.

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‘The Central Bank intervened to support the foreign exchange market.’

The city is well placed to host large scale meetings and events throughout this year, starting with the International Oil and Gas Summit, to be held in March.

APEC was beneficial to the quality hotels and companies that supplied goods and services to the APEC Coordinating Authority throughout the year.

But now that PNG’s role as the host of APEC is over—Chile is taking over as this year’s hosts—there are not a lot of international meetings and events that Port Moresby businesses can look forward to this year.

Foreign exchange

The Port Moresby Chamber is pleased that the government has started to clear the backlog of long outstanding debts owed to goods and service providers and landlords.

It is POMCCI’s hope that the government will give priority to clearing all long overdue debts.

It is also encouraging to see that the Central Bank intervened to support the foreign exchange market more in December.

‘There is a good deal of optimism that 2020 will be a better year for business.’

This has enabled the commercial banks to clear some of the backlog of orders for foreign exchange.

The backlog has been reduced and the Chamber is hopeful that the foreign exchange problems encountered by business the past two years will be much improved in 2019.

With Wafi Golpu likely to get the green light for construction in the second half of this year, there should be further inflows of dollars to pay for the development costs of the mine.

Most businesses are expecting a tough year and accordingly are not looking to expand their businesses in the capital this year.


There is a good deal of optimism that 2020 will be a better year for business.

It is expected that once the gas agreement for the Papua LNG project has been finalised by the end of the first quarter, then FEED (Front End Engineering Design) will proceed over the next twelve months or so.

Accordingly, businesses are starting to plan for the opportunities that will arise once the construction phase of the Papua LNG project gets underway.

With the continued uncertainties over Brexit in the United Kingdom as well as the ongoing trade war between the USA and China—the world’s two largest economies—and the fall in prices in most property markets throughout the world, businesses are concerned about the global economic outlook for 2019.

Businesses in Port Moresby are cautiously optimistic that the domestic economy will slowly improve and lead to sold economic growth in 2020 and beyond.

Rio Fiocco is President of the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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