United States Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray kicked off the 2018 APEC year on Tuesday, February 20, with a reception for members of the PNG APEC Coordination Agency and other stakeholders to demonstrate the United States’ strong commitment to support PNG in hosting a successful series of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings.
More than 3000 representatives from the 21 member economies of APEC are expected to attend the first Senior Officials Meeting (SOM1) of 2018 and related working group meetings from February 24 to March 10.
“While most of these visitors will only stay for a few days, SOM1 will give PNG an opportunity to demonstrate that it is ready to take its place as a major forum for promoting economic growth and high standards throughout the Asia-Pacific region,” said Ambassador Ebert-Gray. “We are excited to be a part of the team working with PNG officials to help ensure the success of all of the activities that will take place during the coming year.”
Among the 200 guests were APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko, APEC Ambassador Ivan Pomaleu, ExxonMobil PNG Managing Director Andrew Barry, and Foreign Minister Rimbank Pato along with representatives from Diplomatic Missions in PNG. Also present were representatives of organizations tasked with providing security during APEC, including the PNG Defense Force and the Royal PNG Constabulary, and members of government and private sector organizations responsible for the myriad of details involved in hosting such a large event.
The Sambra Aikit Jazz Band provided live music for the event which gave those working to make sure that everything is ready for SOM 1 an opportunity to meet their counterparts socially in advance of the upcoming whirlwind of official activities.
APEC consists of a series of meetings where experts from APEC economies discuss trade and economic development priorities and identify joint activities in support of the region’s priorities. It will culminate in the APEC Leaders’ Summit from November 12th-18th when leaders from the 21 member economies will gather in Port Moresby for the concluding meetings.
In his opening remarks, Tkatchenko said PNG is “APEC ready” to host this international event, and that he looks forward to working with partners such as the United States, Australia, Japan, and others. He said that the gains PNG will see as a result of the international attention will more than offset the efforts put into preparation.