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Even with help, concern PNG will not be ready to host APEC

Model of the APEC conference centre
Artist's impression of the lakatoi-styled APEC conference centre being constructed at Port Moresby's Ela Beach

ANDREW THOMAS | Al Jazeera

SYDNEY - Papua New Guinea is gearing up to host its biggest international event - the APEC diplomatic summit.

It expects both Chinese leader Xi Jinping and US president Donald Trump to be among the thousands of delegates.

Papua New Guinea isn't having to pay the full APEC costs on its own. Other countries are, in effect, subsidising the event, particularly Australia and China - as it competes for influence in the Pacific.

Despite this significant financial help from foreign countries - there's concern PNG won't be ready in time to host the biggest international event in its history.

But the government insists it will host a successful event.

“Hopefully it will be ready but given the country’s current state in terms of finance, I’m not sure. I have my doubts,” said John Mimari a Port Moresby resident.

Winning the right to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation - or APEC - summit was a major achievement for PNG.

“Papua New Guinea is in a very strategic point in the world - and on the world map - where it can pull from Asia, it can pull from Australia and New Zealand to its benefit and to the benefit of its people,” said APEC minister Justin Tkatchenko. “And any country in that same situation would do the same.”

Officials are confident that the nearly $200 million dollars the government is spending to host the event will be earned back in subsequent investment many times over.

Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas

Through non-monetary assistance - providing people, security and training - Australia is paying between a quarter and a third of the total APEC costs.

“It’s as if Australia is having APEC in PNG, that’s how I would see it,” said Gary Juffa, an opposition politician.

Some fear that APEC has become an opportunity for rival powers trying to buy influence with smaller island nations in the Pacific.

“It’s a little bit risky for PNG I think,” said political commentator Martyn Namorong. “Because it’s more likely in places like PNG that conflicts between the powers will be played out.”

Download APEC Calendar of Events

Comments

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Bernard Corden

He will use the VP just like the president of Augusta golf club did to present the green jackets Tiger Woods.

Paul Oates

Somehow you seem short of takers Phil? Can't imagine why?

Philip Fitzpatrick

We seem to be singing from the same song sheet regarding PNG's importance as a lynch pin in the struggle between China and USA for dominance in the Asia Pacific.

A smart PNG government would capitalise on this but I doubt whether it will happen. The only capitalising will be politicians stealing funds from the APEC project.

Does anyone want to bet that Trump will be a no show at APEC? PNG, after all, it fits his description of a 'shithole' country.

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