20 May 2002

PNG retains huge potential despite many problems

4:34 pm on 20 May 2002

Papua New Guinea's Institute of National Affairs says despite serious problems the country's economic potential is huge.

Its executive director, Mike Manning, says according to a survey crime and corruption are two of the main deterrents to investment along with exchange rate problems and political instability.

Mr Manning told Radio New Zealand International that while there are other disincentives, such as inflation, regulatory instability, a shortage of skilled labour and infrastructre problems, PNG's potential in agriculture is amazing.

"We can grow almost anything that can be grown anywhere in the world because of it's different climatic conditions all over the country. We have the second largest tropical hard wood forest remaining in the world which can be farmed in a sustainable manner we have one of the largest tuna fisheries in the world it's valued at something in the order of about two billion U.S dollars were at the moment harvesting about one hundred and fifty million of that."

Mike Manning warns that a replacement needs to be found the Ok Tedi mine, which currently provides 27 percent of the country's GDP but is set to close in nine years.