KIA P

PNG’S high com­mis­sioner to the UK grew up on Manus Is­land and now mixes in diplo­matic cir­cles in Lon­don.

Paradise - - Departure Lounge -

Q: It’s a long way from Manus Is­land to be­ing PNG’s high com­mis­sioner to the UK. How did you get there?

A: I was for­tu­nate to be given a schol­ar­ship to study in Aus­tralia, where I did my sec­ondary school­ing and univer­sity. I have been a pub­lic ser­vant all my life – start­ing with my first job in Tonga – and my po­si­tion now is re­ally that of a pub­lic ser­vant.

Q: PNG’s re­la­tion­ships with other coun­tries have grown over the past 10 or 15 years, pos­si­bly be­cause PNG has more to of­fer eco­nom­i­cally. Do you agree that peo­ple are start­ing to no­tice PNG more?

A: Yes, I think so. The LNG Project in­creased the foot­print of Pa­pua New Guinea in­ter­na­tion­ally and is open­ing up doors to many other (busi­ness) op­por­tu­ni­ties. We are en­gag­ing more with the world, not only in busi­ness, but also in multi lat­eral pol­icy are­nas.

Q: Is your role to fa­cil­i­tate re­la­tion­ships be­tween PNG and the United King­dom?

15 Realm Coun­tries for which the Queen is head of state. My role was to co-or­di­nate the coun­tries (through their Lon­don high com­mis­sion­ers), the palace and the por­traitist. Her Majesty agreed to sit for the por­trait, and we pre­sented it to her at a small cer­e­mony at St James’s Palace. ( The only Realm coun­tries not to be part of the project were Aus­tralia and Canada.)

Q: What other things do you have to do in your role?

A: I need to make sure the Bri­tish Gov­ern­ment and Lon­don-based mul­ti­lat­er­als are aware of the op­por­tu­ni­ties PNG of­fers and also the kinds of chal­lenges that we face. Most of the time I speak not only for PNG, but also for the Pa­cific Is­land coun­tries as a whole. My role also in­cludes fa­cil­i­tat­ing bi­lat­eral re­la­tions with Cyprus, Egypt, Is­rael, South Africa and Zim­babwe. I rep­re­sent PNG to these coun­tries.

A: They (the UK) are be­com­ing a big na­tion of cof­fee drinkers be­cause the young pop­u­la­tion now prefers to be iden­ti­fied with cof­fee rather than with tea. It’s a cof­fee gen­er­a­tion. So that’s the mar­ket that we have to tar­get. Our cof­fee (and choco­late from our sin­gle-ori­gin co­coa) is al­ready in the su­per­mar­kets but we have huge com­pe­ti­tion from African and Amer­i­can pro­duc­ers. As a tourist des­ti­na­tion PNG has no com­peti­tor in our re­gion. Our prod­uct – our cul­tural di­ver­sity, nat­u­ral beauty of the land and sea, bio­di­ver­sity both on land and in the sea – is unique. You travel from one area to an­other only 30 min­utes away and you are in a dif­fer­ent lan­guage and cul­tural area. Where else in the Pa­cific do you get that? ■

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