APEC to put PNG on the map: O'Neill

Papua New Guinea's prime minister is confident Port Moresby will pull off a successful APEC leaders summit which will put his country on the map.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill. Source: AAP

Despite budget woes and earthquake recovery challenges, Papua New Guinea's prime minister insists an upcoming major leaders summit in his country will be a monumental success.

Peter O'Neill has talked up Port Moresby's preparations ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) talks.

The PNG capital will host leaders from 21 Pacific-rim countries including the US, Russia, China and Japan in November.

"This is a monumental achievement for our country," Mr O'Neill told the Australian-PNG business forum in Brisbane on Tuesday.

"We may be one of of the smallest (APEC) countries but PNG is demonstrating it is able to make a positive contribution to driving business in the Asia-Pacific region."

He said after November "everyone will remember where Papua New Guinea is" and not confuse it with an African country.

Australia is expected to chip in a significant portion of the costs.

The Turnbull government has already announced $48 million to extend the presence of 73 federal police officers in PNG until after the summit.

PNG government coffers are struggling following a downturn in global commodity prices and the failure of an LNG project to deliver a promised economic boom.

An earthquake hit the PNG highlands in February, killing 150 people and destroying villages.

Mr O'Neill denied he's asked Australia for extra cash to fund APEC.

"The PNG government has never asked the Australian government for any money, period," he told reporters in Brisbane.

"It's entirely up to the Australian government to allocate whatever resources they see fit to help build our relationship."

APEC 2018 Authority chairman Charles Lepani, a former high commissioner to Australia, is confident building projects for the event are progressing well, as are logistical and security arrangements.

APEC Secretariat executive director Alan Bollard said PNG was something of an outlier within APEC, acknowledging its small economy and low income per capita.

"It's the most highly rural population base in the whole of APEC," he told the forum, adding that it wasn't a technological leader.

"In spite of that it's got some very big expectations," Dr Bollard said.

Sixteen lead-up meetings in PNG had been held so far and had gone well.

"We have a lot more confidence about how the rest of the year will go," he said.

Dr Bollard said an upcoming APEC meeting of trade ministers in PNG would be responding to increased global trade friction, particularly in light of US steel and aluminium tariffs and blowback from China.

Australia's Assistant Trade Minister Mark Coulton said PNG's APEC summit would be a "game changer".

"It is an opportunity to showcase the business potential of PNG to the world - a stable, reliable democracy and an attractive commercial environment," Mr Coulton told the forum.

He praised PNG's decision to reconsider joining up to the Pacific Pacer Plus free trade agreement.

3 min read
Published 1 May 2018 at 5:36pm
Source: AAP