Posted By Staff Reporter
PAPUA New Guinea must exercise its sovereignty and not allow itself to be seen as a client state to friends, says an economist.
Saul Eslake, an independent economist of Corinna Economic Advisory, said during the digital investment conference yesterday that PNG occupied a strategic location in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Inevitably, China is going to want to continue to seek PNG, as it is doing with other developing economies, particularly in the Pacific, while the West conversely will like to keep PNG in it,” he said.
“The US is significantly a greater provider of official development of foreign aid than China.
“Official assistance is not the only way in which large countries provide aid to other governments, and China in particular has been providing financial assistance to other countries (including) soft loans and other investments that are primarily representational.”
Eslake said China was now one of the most important markets for agriculture commodities, and a larger importer of mineral and energy.
He said for PNG, as an exporter of agricultural goods, mineral and energy, China was important to PNG.
“Foreign investors from China and the West are likely to be keenly interested in PNG’s many resources,” he said.
“It is therefore important that PNG develops a clear sense of where its own strategic interest lies so that it will survive changes. And foreign powers will see it not in their interest to interfere in PNG politics to suit their interest.”
He said there could be opportunities for PNG to benefit from competition between China and the West who would “dangling aid and investment”.
“Given how rich PNG is, it shouldn’t be one of the poorest country in the Asia Pacific region.”
The National / PNG Economy Watch
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