Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill encouraged the Asia-Pacific business community to invest in infrastructure that will increase digital access, a fundamental driver of inclusive growth.
“All APEC members today are expanding their digital access,” said Prime Minister O’Neill, who is also the chair and host of APEC 2018. “We look to the private sector to capitalize on this and make investments that lead to more innovations.”
Prime Minister O’Neill addressed local and visiting members of the business community in Port Moresby on Friday, kicking off a two-day summit that brings together the region’s leaders and the private sector ahead of the annual meeting of APEC Economic Leaders.
The meeting will prioritize trade and economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
Papua New Guinea’s theme for APEC in 2018 focuses on taking advantage of new technologies to give more vulnerable sectors greater access to participating in the economy.
“While free trade is vital,” said Prime Minister O’Neill, “this alone will not deliver the sustained and the wider economic development that we aspire to.”
“Policies must be aimed at improving productivity, raising low and middle-income levels so that we are able to make a better of standard of living for our people,” he said.
APEC includes developing economies as well as some of the world’s most advanced. And while the region’s GDP has more than tripled over the last decades, the forum has increasingly focused in recent years on making sure the benefits of this growth reach all people. Digital technology is seen as a way to make economic growth more inclusive.
Prime Minister O’Neill said that investment needs to be encouraged to deliver efficient, reliable, and more affordable internet access.
“In Papua New Guinea, our government is leading the way in encouraging investment infrastructure that will facilitate digital access,” he said, “especially by small to medium enterprises and our business community.”
“There should be no space for digital divide, on whatever grounds that divide may be generated,” he added, “be it be gender, ethnic groupings, education or where the person lives.”
He said the business community is “remarkably well placed to help secure a stronger future for our region.”(In photo: Biluminous—a mobile application developed by the winners of the 2018 APEC App Challenge—connects Papua New Guinean bag weavers to customers from the rest of the world.)
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