Papua New Guinea open to Chinese, Australian investors

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister said yesterday his South Pacific island nation was open to investment from China, Australia and any other country that is willing to work within the country’s rules.

Prime Minister James Marape is making his first visit to Australia since he became leader of its nearest neighbour and former colony in May.

Marape said while Australia was the biggest investor in Papua New Guinea, his government treated all investors equally.

“Whether they are from China or Australia or right across the world is inconsequential and irrelevant to us,” Marape told reporters.

“We will have an equal playing field for every investor as long as they subscribe to the rules and regulations of our country,” he said.

“Chinese investors will not receive any special treatment and preference, just like Australian investors will not receive any special favour or treatment.”

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape shakes hands with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison after signing the visitors’ book at Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra. – AP

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government wanted to ensure that each of its Pacific neighbours were “as independent and as sovereign and are in as much in charge of their future as they possibly can be.”

The United States, Japan, New Zealand and Australia announced in November that they will bring electricity to 70 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s people by 2030.

Only 20 per cent of its eight million people, mainly subsistence farmers, currently have power.

Morrison announced yesterday a AUD250 million investment in the electrification programme in the Ramu region.

Marape said Papua New Guinea had no more important bilateral relationship than its relationship with Australia.

Chinese President Xi Jinping made his first visit to Papua New Guinea last year when Pacific Rim leaders met in the capital Port Moresby for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

The US and Australia committed to redevelop a Papua New Guinea naval base on Manus Island in an agreement with the previous prime minister.

The US is expanding its Marine Corps training hub in the northern Australian city of Darwin – 1,600 kilometres southwest of Port Moresby – as part of its strategic pivot to Asia.