The annual APEC Leaders’ Meeting will be held in Port Moresby in November 2018. It is expected to have a profound impact on the country.
PNG is preparing for its biggest ever event, the annual APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, to be held in Port Moresby in 2018. It is expected to have a lasting impact.
For the first time since joining the Asia Pacific Economic Council in 1994, Papua New Guinea will host APEC’S annual leaders’ meeting in the capital, Port Moresby. It is to be held on the 12–18 November, 2018.
‘There are two great opportunities to be realised from hosting APEC,’ says David Toua, the President of the Business Council of PNG (BCPNG).
‘The first is to invite people to our country, and showcase its enormous potential as an investment destination. The second is to bring our people closer to the global market beyond our borders.’
Toua says the e-commerce SME summit hosted in Port Moresby in April, 2016, provided ‘a glimpse of the entrepreneurial and technological opportunities that our people and our businesses can access.’
Is it worth it?
The experience of other countries that have hosted the event suggests benefits outweigh the costs, claims Francis Hualupmomi, a political scientist at New Zealand’s Victoria University in Wellington.
‘For instance, the Philippines, as a host of two APEC meetings (1995 and 2015), is currently experiencing a growth rate of eight per cent, partially as a result of heavy investment in between those years.’
Hualupmomi points to increased investment from tourists and businessmen (which results in job creation), restored credibility of the state as a host of future high-level meetings, the boosting of PNG’S socioeconomic infrastructure, and enhanced defence capability and capacity. In the long-term, he says, the meeting will deepen PNG’S trade and investments in the region.
The national government has allocated K800 million for the event and preparations are ‘on track’, according to PNG’S APEC Ambassador Ivan Pomaleu. He says the Committee on APEC Policy Issues document has gone through four drafts. The subjects covered are: enhancing regional economic integration; sustainable and inclusive growth; structural reforms; and human capital development. An events calendar will be ready in mid2017.
APEC Haus—leaders’ Conference Centre
The construction of the purpose-built APEC Haus convention centre is expected to be completed by August, 2018. LNG producer Oil Search is carrying out the work, financed under a tax credit scheme.
APEC Haus is being built on reclaimed land near Ela Beach. APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko claims the unique design of the facility, which resembles a Lakatoi sail, will rival other iconic world sites.
‘It will be just like what the Sydney Opera House is to Australia,’ he said.
APEC Haus will host the Leaders’ Summit and the Leaders’ Dialogue with the APEC Business Advisory Council.
Paga Hill Estate
A K85 million development at the new Paga Hill Estate will play a key role in accommodating APEC participants. It consists of a six-star hotel, 68 serviced apartments, commercial buildings, restaurants, a cultural centre, a marina and an international cruise line terminal.
By the time the summit starts, Port Moresby could have as many as 2590 high-end hotel rooms, and conference capacity for many thousands. It will be a sharp contrast to five years ago, when the city had just 600 high-end hotel rooms.
According to Chris Hawkins, Chief Executive of the PNG APEC 2018 Authority, guests will be accommodated in new and existing hotels and three cruise liners that will be parked in Fairfax Harbour especially for the event. ‘There are sufficient rooms for leaders to have the rooms they require,’ he says.
Accommodation will be arranged in accordance with security requirements. The APEC Authority will be in charge of all hotel bookings and there will be strict security compliance.
One of the new hotels is The Stanley, which opened in July of 2016. Located in central Waigani it features 429 rooms. General Manager Geoff Haigh says the centrepiece of the hotel is its function space, which can cater for a plenary conference attendance of up to 1000 and a sit-down dinner for 1200.
Another hotel is PNG’S first Hilton, which will have a 16-storey, mixed-use tower that will house the 212-room Hilton hotel, office and retail space and 128 apartments. It will be ready by late 2017.
A K550 million upgrade of Jacksons national and international airport is underway. It is due for completion by August, 2018. The upgrade includes expanding the international terminal building to include a VIP facility and more facilities at the airfield.
Two key roads have been built to provide easy access from the airport and between APEC conference facilities. Six new roads have been built at a cost of K700 million. These have eased congestion.
The Paga Hill ring road connects all precincts on Paga Hill and the waterfront, as well as linking the city centre, the port and Ela Beach.
The completion of the Pacific’s first flyover in May, 2015, linked Port Moresby’s Jackson International Airport to the administrative, sporting and retail hub of Waigani. The K161 million project included the design and building of a 2.2 km, four-lane road and a 600-metre flyover.
The PNG Cabinet has established the APEC PNG Joint Security Task Force under the command of the Police Commissioner, Gary Baki. It will oversee security during the summit and the pre-summit officials’ meetings.
Prime Minister Peter O’neill says the security procedures will require closer links with Australia, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands. Seventythree Australian Federal Police officers will remain in PNG until the end of the November 2018 leaders’ meeting. They will assist in security, diplomatic support, advisory roles, intelligence services and immigration processes.
The 2018 APEC event and the meetings leading up to the finale are expected to draw tens of thousands of visitors and participants. It will generate many opportunities for the tourism industry: not just in the nation’s capital, but also in the provinces of East New Britain, Morobe, Madang, Eastern Highlands, Milne Bay and New Ireland. All have been selected to host APEC meetings. It offers visitors the chance to experience different parts of the country.
THE EXPERIENCE OF OTHER COUNTRIES THAT HAVE HOSTED THE EVENT SUGGESTS BENEFITS OUTWEIGH THE COSTS.
Paga Hill and APEC Haus (top right), locations for the 2018 APEC Economic Leaders Meeting, under construction.