Papua New Guinea to host APEC, biggest event in its history

Despite significant financial help from foreign countries, there is concern the small Pacific nation will not be ready in time to host its biggest international event – the APEC diplomatic summit.

Papua New Guinea is gearing up to host its biggest international event – the APEC diplomatic summit.

It expects both Chinese leader Xi Jinping and US president Donald Trump to be among the thousands of delegates.

Money is also coming from China as it competes for influence in the Pacific with Australia.

“Papua New Guinea isn’t having to pay the full APEC costs on its own. Other countries are, in effect, subsiding the event, particularly Australia and China,” Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas reports from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Despite significant financial help from foreign countries – there’s concern the small Pacific nation won’t be ready in time to host the biggest international event in its history.

But the government insists it will host a successful event, it is getting lots of assistance.

“Hopefully it will be ready but given the country’s current state in terms of finance, I’m not sure. I have my doubts,” John Mimari a Port Moresby resident said.

Winning the right to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation – or ‘APEC’- summit was a major achievement for Papua New Guinea.

“Papua New Guinea is in a very strategic point in the world – and on the world map – where it can pull from Asia, it can pull from Australia and New Zealand to its benefit and to the benefit of its people. And any country in that same situation would do the same,” Justin Tkatchenko APEC Minister of the Papua New Guinea government.

Officials are confident that the nearly two hundred million dollars the government is spending to host the event will be earned back in subsequent investment many times over.

Through assistance-in-kind – providing people, security and training – Australia is paying between a quarter and a third of the total APEC costs.

“It’s as if Australia is having APEC in Papua New Guiena! That’s how I would see it,” said Gary Juffa an opposition politician.

Some fear that APEC has become an opportunity for rival powers trying to buy influence with smaller island nations in the Pacific.

“It’s a little bit risky for Papua New Guinea I think. Because in the event of a conflict, it’s more likely in places like Papua New Guinea that those conflicts between the powers will be played out,” said Martyn Namorong a political commentator.