Papua New Guinea

Business tips

Always have plenty of business cards and treat other peoples’ cards with respect when they are handed to you.

Reference will often be made to ‘wantoks’ or the ‘wantok system’, ‘wantok’ literally means ‘one talk’ or the ‘same language’. It also has the wider meaning of the ‘same family’ or the ‘same clan’ e.g. a ‘wantok’ has an obligatory responsibility to assist another ‘wantok’, even to his own detriment or loss. This obligation can have detrimental effects when it is incorporated into a capitalistic or ‘Western’ way of life or method of doing business.

Continuity of contact is important when doing business in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Business people like to see the same face representing a company on successive visits. The guarantee of after sales service or maintenance is also considered important and should be an integral part of your strategy.

Business laws are based on English legal principles, but their application is less rigorous than in Australia, progress all your business undertakings with caution. Providing credit, supplying products or undertaking work without arranging appropriate insurance for non-payment of the contract is a risky strategy.

General business practices in some sectors, such as wholesale trading, used clothing, cottage industries and small shops may more closely reflect Asian values e.g. cash transactions, personal relationships, longer negotiations and formal recognition of business arrangements). When dealing with larger companies, western business values tend to be the norm.

Gift giving is not common in general business dealings.

Forms of address in business circles are the same as in Australia.

Men’s business wear comprises long, lightweight trousers and an open necked shirt, known as ‘tropical informal’. ‘Tropical formal’ for men consists of long sleeved shirt and tie with trousers. State affairs or more formal occasions may warrant a jacket.

Women’s business wear is conservative but lightweight, in accordance with local custom, dress for women tends to be more conservative than in Australia.


Finding the right partner

Relationships are crucial in PNG, finding and working closely with the right partner is the key to achieving success in the market. Whether dealing with an agent, distributor, wholesaler or retailer, exporters should do their own due diligence on potential options. This should include a visit/s to the market to qualify potential partners and develop relationships. The Chambers of Commerce in PNG are also valuable sources of local business information.

A range of Australian lawyers and accountants operate in country and Austrade can assist in providing contact details.

In market representation

Should exporters decide to establish an in-market presence in PNG, it is recommended they engage a professional service provider.

Austrade can provide a list of lawyers and accountants. For business and investment regulations, contact PNG’s Investment Promotion Authority.


The banking sector is serviced by three major banks, Westpac, ANZ and Bank of South Pacific. All offer personal and commercial banking facilities.

EFTPOS and ATM services are common in Port Moresby and other major regional centres.

The finance sector is serviced by a number of providers offering general finance services:

  • Kina Securities
  • Credit Corporation PNG
  • Finance Corporation Limited (Fincorp).

For further information on monetary policy, financial sector supervision and the payments system, the Bank of PNG is the central bank and financial regulator.

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