Introduction and Acknowledgements
The Honorable Peter O’Neill, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea;
High Commissioners, Members of the Diplomatic Corps and Trade Commissioners;
Representatives of industry, investment and business;
Hosts and supporters of the Summit today;
Ladies and gentlemen.
When he visited PNG earlier this year for the Papua New Guinea Business Forum, the Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb, put a focus on the word ‘collaboration’.
He was talking about the emerging, economic opportunities which Australia and PNG could exploit – together.
Now, collaboration seems counter-intuitive. Many would be forgiven for thinking of PNG and Australia as competitors, given we are two major resource-exporting countries.
Both are beneficiaries of significant deposits of minerals and resources; and our economies rely heavily on their extraction and export.
And both countries look north, at the insatiable demands of a growing Asian market, as an opportunity to profit.
But you know, Minister Robb is right.
Our two nations can be – should be – collaborators.
In many respects, we already are. Bilateral trade is currently around $7 billion, more than half of which is in PNG’s favour.
And Australian investment in PNG is worth $19 billion, more than double Australia’s investment in Indonesia.
So what exciting opportunities for further collaboration are there?
Opportunities for collaboration exist in resources and energy.
In infrastructure, services and the agricultural sector.
Opportunities for us to leverage each other's strengths to enhance growth in both countries.
The opportunity to work together to service the sizable – and growing – Asian markets.
And the opportunity to achieve greater integration in our economies, particularly through PACER Plus.
Together, we can also face common challenges.
The global economy today faces headwinds.
Both our nations face the realities of the current resources slow-down, and commodity price slumps.
We need to diversify our economies, boost our productivity and strive for more effective government spending.
Attracting foreign investment is as essential to PNG’s continued economic growth, as it is to Australia’s.
Today I’d like to talk to you about two key issues – resources and investment – and the opportunity they present for further collaboration.
Australia and PNG’s resource sectors
It is clear it is in both our interests to have productive, transparent, and secure resources sectors.
Secure resources sectors contribute to economic and political security, to enhanced trade and investment prospects, and to positive development outcomes.
And our respective governments must ensure the returns from today’s resource projects provide future generations prosperity.
Last month [July], PNG’s Parliament passed the Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill.
I congratulate the Government of PNG for taking this step toward greater transparency and accountability.
An effective and credible Sovereign Wealth Fund has the potential to ensure the economic gains of PNG’s resource sector will be shared with the people of PNG.
I am also very pleased to hear PNG has applied to become a member of the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative.
This is a positive step toward enhanced transparency, reduced corruption, and greater collaboration between business, government, and civil society.
There is enormous potential in PNG’s resource sector.
Over 6.9 million tonnes of Liquid Natural Gas will be produced this year by PNG’s first, world class LNG project.
There are other, similar projects in the wings.
Australia is a world leader in the mining and resources sector.
We will continue to share our knowledge and expertise with our closest neighbor.
Investment in the global economy
Over the past decade, PNG has experienced robust economic growth, greater formal employment opportunities, and increased government expenditure and revenues.
It has been a success story in our region, and indeed, globally.
It is important to build on that success in the face of the global resources slow-down – to continue to encourage foreign investment.
Foreign investment brings capital, skills, innovation and best international practices.
It creates jobs, incomes, and stability.
Locally, and – importantly – throughout our region.
In Australia, we are making a concerted effort to embrace policies that attract, rather than deter investment, including through streamlining regulation.
As Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said many times, our focus is on ensuring Australia is open for business.
Australia will continue to share our experiences and expertise with the Government of PNG, to facilitate greater foreign investment.
What we are doing
For Australia, the focus of our engagement with PNG is on promoting effective governance.
We want to enhance human development and enable economic growth.
Australia has recalibrated our aid program towards supporting the private sector, and building infrastructure, to stimulate economic growth.
We have provided targeted aid-for-trade support to build PNG’s capacity to deal with cross-border trade issues like quarantine and customs.
We are increasing support to assist PNG to increase its participation in domestic and international agricultural trade, through a stronger focus on rural communities.
Importantly, because it is business that drives investment, Australia has enhanced engagement with the business community on aid and development issues.
Additionally, by working with the private sector to provide industry recognised skills and training, we can boost the availability of qualified, local labour.
Australia also supports the Pacific Governance and Leadership Precinct, which will further develop an effective public sector, as well as high performing, professional and ethical PNG institutions.
Australia’s development assistance, however – just over half a billion dollars this year – is dwarfed by our trade and investment relationship.
Ladies and gentlemen, events like these are critical to ensure that government and business have a forum to brainstorm, to talk, to ‘collaborate’.
I trust this Summit provides many opportunities for you to explore how PNG can attract more investment, develop infrastructure and boost trade.
As PNG prepares to celebrate 40 years of nationhood, I applaud the PNG Government for the successes of the past decade.
And I encourage both business and government to continue to work toward greater economic prosperity for our friend and neighbour into the future.
As for Australia, we will continue to invest in, to support – to collaborate – with PNG.
- Parliamentary Secretary's Office: (02) 6277 2330
- Departmental Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555