Header Ads

APEC 2018; History in the making for PNG

Commentary by David Lepi

In a few days’ time Papua New Guinea will host the biggest international event ever. Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation is the most influential economic forum in the Asia-Pacific region. With 21-member economies it accounts for nearly 50% of the world trade and about 60% of world GDP. In total APEC houses 2.8 billion people or about 40% of the world’s population.

Established in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific economies APEC aims to facilitate economic growth and prosperity in the region. Over the years it has developed various meetings including Economic Leaders Meeting and Ministerial Meeting. Ministers, delegates and technical experts gather together on different occasions trying to find consensus and doing business.

With time APEC has become a dynamic engine of economic growth. Real GDP in the region has increased from US16 trillion dollars in 1989 to US20 trillion dollars in 2015. Economic and financial co-operations aside APEC member economies have increasively working closely on issues like climate change, anti-terrorism, health and energy as well as communication in cultural sectors.

Winning the right to host the APEC Leaders’ Summit was a major achievement for PNG and the government is confident to a host successful event.

Naysayers are already cynical of the cost of the event which is at the tune of US200 million dollars but is expected to be earned back in subsequent investment many times over. And most importantly Papua New Guinea is not bearing the cost alone. Other countries are subsiding the cost, particularly, China and Australia. China built one of the APEC convention centers, road maintenance and re-sealing and a boulevard. Through assistance in kind providing people, security and training Australia is paying in between a quarter and third of the total APEC costs. And New Zealand too is sending hundreds of people to help protocol training.

APEC is becoming an opportunity for rival powers to get close to PNG and an example of the wider regions bigger countries trying to buy influence with smaller island nations in the pacific. PNG is very strategic given geographical proximity to Australia and New Zealand and its confluence towards South East Asia. China sees this strategic importance for its geo-politics and as one Chinese emissary once said, PNG is the gateway to the pacific.

Chinese President Xi Ping will be among the thousands of visiting delegations and world dignitaries with the notable omission of President Trump and Russia’s Putin. As far as geo-politics is concerned China already has the leverage to exert its position as the dominant leader in the region and extend its sphere of influence.

As time is ticking down to days and hours Papua New Guinea is expected to gain so much and will be remembered in the region as an APEC Leaders Summit hosting nation. And history will remember this government and its unprecedented achievement for a very long time.
Powered by Blogger.