Tuesday, July 02, 2013

O'Neill wants to tap into Townville's ports and mining

PAPUA New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill wants to tap into Townsville's expertise in ports and mining services.
Mr O'Neill spent the weekend in Townsville where he toured the port and met business leaders.
"We have a growing mining sector in Papua New Guinea and there are port development issues that (we discussed when) we visited today," Mr O'Neill said.

WINNING TEAM: Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill presents a Cowboys jersey to PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill | Photo: ZAK SIMMONDS
"The planning that is going on in the Townsville area for the future to accommodate a growing mining sector is something that we are very keen on (tapping into). And of course the construction industry here is fairly mature and well established and we could use those experiences in Papua New Guinea."
Mr O'Neill was visiting as a guest of the Townsville Chamber, which has several members already doing business in the country.
The Papua New Guinea economy is growing at an extraordinary rate, hovering around 8 per cent.
Business leaders and politicians in Townsville have made no secret of their desire to strengthen business connections with the nation.
Townsville Chamber president Dawson Wilkie said Townsville already had strong links, but with such phenomenal economic growth, the opportunity was there for further expansion.
He said even if the rest of Australia was not completely aware of opportunities with its northern neighbour, Townsville was constantly discussing the topic.
"Certainly in Townsville we do talk about it," Mr Wilkie said.
"That (expanded) relationship would be important to the chamber.
"We've got a lot of businesses doing business in Papua New Guinea and a lot of businesses that would like to do business in PNG, but need that assistance for that to happen."
Mr O'Neill said the relationship should be expanded and the benefits would flow both ways.
As the nation's economy expands, businesses in North Queensland could be well positioned to seize opportunities there.
Mr O'Neill said another key benefit for Papua New Guinea would be training its own workforce.
"We feel that we are starting to have issues with (having enough) skilled workers.
"We have got some young people that are here (in North Queensland) studying at the various TAFEs to fill those gaps, but we still need more development in that area."
While Australia focuses on China and Indonesia, Mr O'Neill said his country presented another great opportunity for businesses.
"I think in terms of security of investment, in terms of middle-sized companies being able to go and participate in a growing economy, (Papua New Guinea) is an opportunity Australians (wouldn't want to be) missing out on."

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