Opening Session – Third APEC Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forestry
27 October 2015
Gateway Hotel, Port Moresby

Speech by Hon Peter O’Neill CMG MP
Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea

It is my pleasure to welcome ministers and delegates from around the Asia-Pacific to Papua New Guinea.
This is indeed the Asia-Pacific century and new opportunities are being created for our economies.
The APEC region accounts for half of the world’s trade and Papua New Guinea looks to increasing economic engagement in our region.
As the Premier forum for advancing trade and investment in our region, APEC is important for Papua New Guinea.
We have been a member since 1993, but we have never hosted an APEC year.
Papua New Guinea is now preparing to host APEC Leaders in November 2018.
In the lead-up to 2018 we will have many more APEC meetings in Port Moresby and around the country.
As the largest developing nation in the Pacific, we hope to make an important contribution to the APEC process.
We bring with us the views and perspectives of many developing nations.
In particular, the sustainable management of our natural resources is a very important issue for Pacific Island nations.
This naturally includes our marine resources, but also our land and vegetation.
In Papua New Guinea we have 38 million hectares of forest cover – which represents about 80 per cent of our total land.
Effective management of this land is a significant issue for our country.
There have been abuses in the past, but we are working to create a more sustainable future.
We are taking a number of significant steps forward in ensuring forestry sustainability.
This includes moving towards the end of round log exports.
I know Minister Tomuriesa will update you on our work and share our experiences, to enhance our forestry sector.
I look forward to the outcomes of this and the range of discussions that will occur in the coming three days.
This meeting is a great example of the value that the APEC process provides to our economy and the region.
Each year when I attend the APEC Leaders’ meeting, in different APEC economies, I hear the same question asked.
What do the people of each economy gain from being a part of and hosting APEC?
While many people focus on the Leaders’ Meeting when they talk about APEC – there is a lot more to involved.
APEC is a forum where ministers, delegates and technical experts can negotiate issues that affect all economies.
Then when common positions evolve and consensus is reached – this can be endorsed by the highest political leaders of our economies to ensure action takes place.
There is a great deal that we all gain across many areas through APEC.
In education, we gain access to better learning systems and teaching techniques – that we can adapt to local conditions and use in our schools.
In the area of information technologies, APEC projects and research helps us to facilitate better access to telecommunications and the Internet.
We are working towards ensuring that every man, woman and child will at least have village-based access to the Internet in the coming years.
In Papua New Guinea we talk about our grassroots people. These are the heart and soul of our nation and are often who are the hardest workers.
Many are involved in SMEs and micro enterprises.
Through APEC engagement we access new policy and technical processes that help us to cut red tape and improve supply chains for small business.
Participation in APEC also benefits our grassroots people by creating opportunities to feed into the broader economy as it expands.
Papua New Guinea will continue to enhance our engagement with APEC.
When we host APEC in 2018 more than 10,000 visitors will come to our country through the year – and millions will see Papua New Guinea through the media around the world.
Our nation looks forward to this opportunity and to welcoming Leaders, delegates and businesspeople from your economies.
We hope that our visitors will gain greater insight to our culture.
As a country with more than 800 languages and cultures there is a lot to see, and we hope you make many return visits to get to know our people.
As well as the natural beauty and the cultural spectacular of our country, we also hope you will leave our land with an appreciation of the change that is taking place here.
We are moving from traditional societies to a modern market economy in the space of a generation.
That certainly brings with it pressures and we are rising to meet any challenge.
We have experienced consecutive 14 years of economic growth – and in the coming year our economy will expand by 11 per cent again.
The fundamental of our economy are sound.
We will weather the current slump in commodity prices, and emerge from current global economic uncertainty even stronger that we were before.
Papua New Guinea is an economy that is truly open for business and we welcome our colleagues from our APEC partner economies.
I hope you enjoy your stay and that you have the opportunity to get outside of the conference room.
It is our pleasure to have you in Port Moresby you as our guests.
I wish you well for your discussion over the following three days.
Thank you.

Prime Minister Hon. Peter O'Neill

How APEC has benefitted the Partner Economies?

APEC has grown to become a dynamic engine of economic growth and one of the most important regional forums in the Asia-Pacific. Its 21 member economies are home to around 2.8 billion people and represent approximately 57 per cent of world GDP and 47 per cent of world trade in 2012.

As a result of APEC’s work, growth has soared in the region, with real GDP doubling from just USD 16 trillion in 1989 to USD 31 trillion in 2013. Meanwhile, residents of the Asia-Pacific saw their per capita income rise by 45 per cent, lifting millions out of poverty and creating a growing middle class in just over two decades.

Bringing the region closer together, reducing trade barriers, and smoothing out differences in regulations have boosted trade which, in turn, has led to this dramatic increase in prosperity. Average tariffs fell from 17 per cent in 1989 to 5.2 per cent in 2012. During that same time period, the APEC region’s total trade increased over seven times—outpacing the rest of the world with two-thirds of this trade occurring between member economies.

APEC Mission Statement

APEC is the premier Asia-Pacific economic forum. Our primary goal is to support sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

We are united in our drive to build a dynamic and harmonious Asia-Pacific community by championing free and open trade and investment, promoting and accelerating regional economic integration, encouraging economic and technical cooperation, enhancing human security, and facilitating a favorable and sustainable business environment. Our initiatives turn policy goals into concrete results and agreements into tangible benefits.

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