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Port Moresby 2018 APEC Summit to deliver significant opportunities for PNG business

Papua New Guinea’s APEC 2018 Coordination Authority is on track to deliver its budget for the 2018 event later this year, with interim CEO Christopher Hawkins saying it will highlight the opportunities the business sector can capitalise on.

Businesses throughout Port Moresby can expect to find a wide range of opportunities in the lead-up to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit over the next three years, according to the PNG APEC 2018 Coordination Authority.

‘The direct benefits for business in PNG are that, from what we spend on and for hosting APEC, most will go to the private sector because the government is not in the business of delivering the items that we need,’ PNG APEC Authority Interim Chief Executive Officer Christopher Hawkins told the 2015 Papua New Guinea Advantage Investment Summit last month.

‘That’s including transportation and freight, venues, catering, uniforms, communications – everything from gifts and handy crafts. These are things that will be outsourced.’

The Summit is taking place in PNG for the first time in 2018, leaving only Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei as the only APEC economies yet to host the event.

How the private sector in PNG would potentially benefit, Hawkins said, would be revealed when the Authority submits its budget and projections later this year.

‘When we deliver our budget and projections to parliament in October or November, a lot of that [budgeted] figure will be going direct to business and that will have the flow-on effect as well,’ he noted.

Overcoming doubts

Hawkins said the Authority was focusing on how to address the many doubts that have persisted since Port Moresby was first selected to host the APEC Summit back in 2013.

He said the doubts centred mainly on Port Moresby’s ability to host an event of this magnitude, with 21 leaders from around the world, including from leading economies, the United States and China, expected to attend.

‘Challenges that we face are mainly around perception. There are people who don’t believe we can do it,’ Hawkins said.

‘Some of these negative views are stereotypical, based on past experiences from the 1980s and 1990s where things were very different. Some of it is based on prejudice, but for us, we are moving ahead to prove these people wrong.

‘Importantly, we have got to demonstrate our capacity all the way through until when we host the APEC. We have to manage expectations and demonstrate that we are on track.’

Chain of events

Hawkins said the experience of hosting the Pacific Games earlier this year, and also several upcoming events, would be ideal preparation for Port Moresby and PNG ahead of APEC.

‘Those of you that were in Port Moresby for the (Pacific) Games will know that everything came together,’ Hawkins said.

‘It was on time and it was on budget. It’s a big act to follow but at APEC we are building our team in much the same way as the Games built their team.’

Hawkins said the Authority was confident of building a skilled workforce to coordinate APEC that would require ‘only a couple of expat staff’.
The APEC Summit is also being planned following similar models to previous summits during the past decade, including in Australia’s, Peru’s and Chile’s.

Preparation for the event involves four phases, with the scoping phase completed and approved by Parliament in 2014. The Authority is now in the first of its three planning phases.

‘We have three years – it’s not long but we are on track and we are now moving to the next phase and I hope you look out for the real start of our APEC hosting, which will be the APEC meeting of ministers responsible for forestry in October,’ Hawkins said.

Overcoming challenges

Port Moresby’s shortage of hotel rooms remains a key challenge the Authority is working to overcome, Hawkins explained.

He said the Authority was dealing with this position by organising a more ‘intimate’ event compared with previous summits held elsewhere, such as China last year.

‘We will need cruise ships to take on accommodation capacity, which is commonplace these days. We are talking to the cruise ships now,’ Hawkins said.

‘We have sufficient accommodation for leaders to have the room they require.’

Hawkins said security and transportation were other areas where extensive preparation was already under way.

‘Security is always the big challenge for any APEC meeting – you have got 21 leaders from some of the world’s largest economies in one place meeting together. We have been working with our security partners, especially Australia,’ Hawkins said.

‘The airport is a concern for any APEC week. We will have a new airport terminal (in Port Moresby) by 2018 that will go where the old terminal used to be.’

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