New Zealand is competing for influence in Papua New Guinea on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit amidst growing competition in the Pacific region from China and the US.
With less than a day in Port Moresby, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s focus was on healthcare; $10mil for vaccination support, up to $20mil to connect 70% of households to electricity and formally opening Gordon's Market to further build up women in business.
Pacific leaders were invited to address APEC leaders for the first time, and raised climate change as a key concern.
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says uncertainty that stems from the US-China trade war is prompting other countries like Vietnam to look at New Zealand with ‘fresh eyes’.
“All of a sudden they’ve got a different perspective about NZ and some of the things that go back to this country’s long term character and integrity when it comes to the Pacific is starting to show through.
“That’s something I wouldn’t have seen before, I’m seeing it now and I think it offers us an opportunity to have a far more profound influence in the shape of the Pacific.”
Ardern opened Gordon's fresh produce market, the largest in the Pacific, to commemorate the $7mil NZ committed four years ago make it more safe and sanitary.
She says, “Predominantly it helps women, they make up to 90 percent of vendors here so providing them with a safe space to trade makes a big difference to their lives but also to their local community.”
Kids will also get a boost with vaccination support.
“That’s a $10 million contribution, specifically focused on polio vaccinations here in PNG.”
The electrification upgrade partnership alongside Australia, the United States, Japan, Papua New Guinea will bring electricity to most homes come 2030.
With the conclusion of APEC in PNG, New Zealand is already planning its turn come 2021.