IT is encouraging to see Queen Emma Chocolate making its way steady into supermarkets in the country.
The country is rich in raw commodities but yet we lose a lot when exporting our raw materials overseas, which eventually returns to our shores as finished products that we have to purchase at a cost higher than what we earned from the original export.
This scenario has me concerned as a citizen given the urgent need for our overall economy to regain its strength.
The success of Queen Emma Chocolate is a testimony that PNG is fully capable of industrialisation. Downstream processing of our commodities is a bonus for us in so many ways.
However, one of the major fears of potential investors, nationals and expatriates alike is the lack of overseas markets.
Given the current domestic economic downturn, business is becoming slower in the country.
Thus, the establishment of overseas markets will be an insurance to the infant industries in PNG as money is earned both domestically and from abroad.
The status quo of our local industries exporting processed goods overseas is still insignificant compared to the amount of raw materials leaving our shores. However, the figure is gradually increasing but once again, at snail’s pace.
Coffee, coconut and cocoa products are slowly but surely crawling into overseas supermarkets, but we can definitely do better than that, and this is when government intervention is very crucial.
A good number of products imported into PNG can be manufactured domestically and sold at much lower prices: cooking oil, soap, salt, chocolate, coffee, cosmetics, etc are just some examples.
PNG must learn from other nations, which are less fortunate than us when it comes to the vast reservoir of natural resources that we have but are highly developed through industrialisation.
If the now highly-developed island of Taiwan once earned its revenue by literally selling watermelons and pineapples, PNG does not have a single excuse under the sun.