The Prime Minister yesterday attendef the second day of the 22nd APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in Beijing, China.
Working to the theme of "Shaping the future through Asia-Pacific partnership," leaders discussed next generation trade and investment issues and progress to establish an eventual Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).
In his intervention at the Leaders' Meeting, Prime Minister Peter O'Neill expressed his optimism for an FTAAP in the future while at the same time urging the region to proceed with care so as to ensure the viability of small and potentially vulnerable businesses.
"The general consensus was that an FTAAP is positive and will improve transport and logistics in the region, increase trade and create jobs," the Prime Minister said.
"This long-term goal has been advanced by APEC since 2006 and we are taking gradual steps towards it being realised.
"Specifically for Papua New Guinea, ongoing and deeper regional economic integration is essential as a source for trade, and importantly for investment, in order to continue to grow our economy."
"Within the APEC region, Papua New Guinea already has strong government-to-government and business-to-business engagement with most of our economic engagement being within the APEC region."
However, the Prime Minister said any FTAAP should be advanced with consideration of all stakeholders, and communication with people affected by policy and regulatory change as an essential part of the process.
"Deepening multilateral engagement can at times be challenging and controversial, particularly for developing nations, both large and small, were some sectors have not reached a level where competition is sustainable just yet.
"Change must be measured and properly implemented according to timetables that do not harm domestic sectors, while at the same time enable Papua New Guinea to embrace international opportunities.
"It is incumbent upon all governments to communicate with stakeholders such as businesses and other employers.
"We must provide information on both the challenges, and importantly the opportunities afforded by increased engagement in the multilateral trading system."
The Prime Minister said he welcomes the APEC Beijing Road Map on Regional Economic Integration, that was endorsed by APEC Leaders, as a positive development.
"Beijing Road Map on Regional Economic Integration that will provides a step-by-step approach to attaining our broader goal of an FTAAP."