8 Oct 2018

PNG East New Britain eyes major Chinese investment

3:47 pm on 8 October 2018

Papua New Guinea's East New Britain Governor is heading to China today to discuss major investment in his province.

Nakikus Konga said while in China he hopes to finalise details for a landmark project to establish a fish cannery on his province's north coast.

Mr Konga said hundreds of millions of dollars would be invested in the cannery which will enable local fish products to be exported to China and Japan.

He says he's also going to sign an agreement for ten students from his province to be sent to Chinese universities each year for three years to study business and marine biology.

"Because they will be harvesting fish here. And marine biology is to teach my people here so they can build fish in millions in tanks and put them into the sea, so we continue to enjoy sustainable harvesting of our natural resources, which is fishery."

The governor suggested Chinese direct investment would be the impetus for a new era of economic growth in East New Britain.

He said his administration was mindful of environmental side-effects of the cannery, and was not planning to establish it near the capital Kokopo or Rabaul.

It is likely to be built closer to Keravat on the north coast of the Gazelle Peninsula, to form part of what Mr Konga hoped would be an industrial hub for the islands region, together with a local oil palm factory.

"So what we are doing now is reclaiming back 50 hectares of land there which is owned by the provincial government," he said.

"I don't care what sort of investor comes in, they must remember that they must give me 20 percent for the provincial government of East New Britain, and that is growing the local economy together."

While Mr Konga didn't name the Chinese company which he expects to develop the cannery, he has previously told PNG media that Fujian Zhonghong Fishery Company Limited expressed interest.

The anticipated investment comes as PNG's prime minister Peter O'Neill last week announced more autonomy for East New Britain, including more control of its own finances.