The Australia-PNG Business Forum has begun with Papua New Guinea setting the tone for discussions over the next 48 hours as an aggressive trade partner.
Speaking before the forum, Commerce and Trade Minister, Richard Maru, said PNG would be seeking more Australian investment in agriculture and other non-resource sectors.
Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, conveyed a similar message highlighting the long relationship between the two countries, whilst seeking a relaxation of Australia’s visa restrictions.
The Australia-PNG Business Forum comes on the back of the visit of Indonesia’s President, Joko Widodo. As Papua New Guinea reaches out to its nearest neighbor, Indonesia, to seek out new opportunities, it’s also telling it’s closest ally and supporter, Australia, that existing relationships need to be improved further.
Over the next 24 hours, Papua New Guinea will be presenting its views from a position of strength. With a stronger PNG economy and an attractive investment environment, Australia will face investment competition from growing economies in Asia, despite being one of the biggest aid donors and investors to Papua New Guinea.
It is that tone that that has also come from the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill.
O’Neill asked why Australia was still not granting Papua New Guineans Visas on arrival. He then went on to add that Indonesia had already agreed to an arrangement that allowed Papua New Guineans to gain visas on arrival.
Both countries are in general agreement that the growth in Asia, and Australia, with Papua New Guinea’s strategic positions on the globe, places them at an advantage.
For instance, Australia expects to receive up to 100 million tourists from China, as the list of Billionaires and millionaires rise.
Australia’s trade minister says both countries need to focus on how to capture the benefits of that growth in Asia.