Few countries are as blessed with natural resources as
Its largely mountainous terrain is swathed in dense tropical rainforest, the soil is rich for cultivation and the South Pacific waters off its coasts teem with fish.
Beneath the ground lies a wealth of minerals, including gold, silver and copper, and there is oil and natural gas awaiting exploitation.
It is a beautiful country too, one of the most biodiverse in the world with a dazzling variety of flora and fauna, insect and birdlife.
Yet while PNG is resource rich, it is cash poor, and 33 years after achieving independence from Australia – not very long in the life of a country – it still faces significant challenges of nationhood.
Poor transport infrastructure, unreliable electricity supply, a low standard of education, a chronic health disorder, law and order problems and a shortage of new investment are among the factors that have held back economic development.
New incentives must be aimed at triggering investment and growth including producing and marketing more ‘PNG Made’ products.
There are many opportunities, but we need to create an awareness of the potential we have.
We must aggressively promote ‘PNG Made’ products in such ways as holding international trade fairs and introduce ourselves first in the regional markets and then the bigger international markets.
This is in light of the once-popular ‘PNG Made Trade Fair’ becoming history!
And so, PNG continues to import almost all processed food, clothing and footwear and most of the inputs to industry and commerce are also imported.
However, there are potential investment opportunities in downstream activities, which we are not tapping into.
The government of PNG must put into place strong policies which will lead to the development of a strong domestic production base to replace reliance on the non-renewable resource industries such as mining and petroleum.
The government needs to generate greater domestic production of most basic consumer and industry needs.
As such, incentives and concessions are granted to businesses with a policy of import substitution.
A concerted effort is being applied to address problems the industry has experienced. Infrastructure improvements and lowering of input tariffs would greatly reduce production costs.
The manufacturing industry has been urged to adopt cost-reducing, efficient techniques on the factory floor and within management to prepare itself for foreign competition when protective tariffs are phased out.
The Manufacturers Council of PNG (a private sector organisation) promotes the manufacturing and downstream processing in PNG.
The manufacturing sector in PNG is small.
In the 15 years between 1977 and 1992, the manufacturing sector's contribution to GDP varied between 15-18 percent.
Food processing, beverage production, and tobacco processing are the main products manufactured in the country.
The PNG government uses tariffs and subsidies, as well as direct industry support, to keep this sector afloat.
While the industry has become dependent upon such measures, the government sees the manufacturing sector as providing employment for the increasing number of urban migrants.
Most manufacturing is for domestic consumption only, and does not generate any export earnings.
To ensure industrial development accelerates efficiently, the PNG government is revising its trade and tariff policies.
Substantial changes in those policies is alleviating the problems the industry has experienced, such as the high cost of inputs.
Coupled with the concerted effort being applied to improving the country's physical infrastructure, education and vocational training opportunities and health services, there are potential investment opportunities in downstream activities.
These infrastructure improvements and lowering of input tariffs greatly reduces production costs.
Industry has been urged to adopt cost-reducing, efficient techniques on the factory floor and within management, to prepare itself for foreign competition when protective tariffs are greatly phased down.
The sector has a close working relationship with the government.
A strong representative body exists in the Manufacturers Council of PNG.
There is regular consultation between its members and key senior government departments and statutory bodies.
The chamber also deals with private sector organisations in negotiating better prices for the supply of goods and services.
A manufacturing database is being developed for both the government and manufacturers to facilitate collection, collation and cross-referencing of essential statistical data on manufacturing in PNG.
It will be used to highlight to the Government and industry, any systems defects, deficiencies, anomalies or requirements which are in need of attention.
Overall, it will help to improve industry through the provision of improved and timely information.
The database is also expected to boost domestic and export marketing and facilitate identification of alternative sources of manufacturing inputs.
The level of skills in the manufacturing sector is also being given special attention. Organisation and planning for a major, long-term vocational training programme is near completion.
It is intended, initially to concentrate on the manufacturing and processing industries, but provisions will be made to extend its usefulness to other sectors.
It is vital to the sector to improve the quality of its products, increase its export opportunities and improve the nation's standard of living through employment opportunities, product quality and pricing.
In co-operation with the domestic manufacturing sector, the government of PNG must put into place strong policies which will lead to the development of a strong domestic production base to replace reliance on the non-renewable resources industries such as mining and petroleum.
We must all support ‘PNG Made’ Products.