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Business opportunities between Cairns, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific have been given a huge boost with the recent opening of the Exchange Innovation and Information Centre (EiiC) on Mulgrave Road, in Cairns.

“This new centre is a great business and educational bridge between the greater Cairns region, PNG and the Pacific,” says Gary Aylward, EiiC International Advisor and Founding Member of Tradelinked, a regionally-focused network that facilitates engagement of businesses trading between Cairns, PNG and the Pacific. “It has the potential to be a major commercial and social centre for Queensland.
“There’s a lot of Papua New Guinean expats living in Cairns and North Queensland, and there’s a lot of social contact, a lot of businesses relationships that have been engaged for the last 30 years and investments being made on both sides of the border, so this is about adding another layer of engagement.”

EiiC is an initiative of Cairns Language Centre and Cairns Business College, wholly owned entities of Charles Darwin University, and is in partnership with the PNG Government through the Department of Provincial and Local Government Affairs in conjunction with a number of Provincial Governments and other partners.
It will promote business and educational links through provision of B2B linking, consulting services, hot desks, training and project design services and will also act as a contact point for individuals, corporate, government and social and community groups in Cairns, PNG and the Pacific. The complex will include Tradelinked Cairns – PNG – Pacific as well as the PNG National and Provincial offices. It has also engaged a number of PNG organisations to set up offices in Cairns.

Tradelinked is a group of business organisations in Cairns that network between each other and have a common interest in commercial opportunities in PNG and the Pacific.
“There’s a link between all of them in terms of developing and further developing relationships between PNG, the Pacific and Cairns,” Gary says. “There’s a lot of history there, and we want to take that to another level through the EiiC.

“The new opportunities provided by the centre are quite substantial. There are a number of major industries in PNG and the Pacific including marine, commercial aviation, general aviation and maintenance services, general industry training, education and health services.”
There are also new possibilities coming up in the Solomon Islands following the Australian Government’s announcement that it is putting in an optical fibre link from Sydney to PNG, which will also connect the Solomon Islands.

“There are potential new commercial opportunities in PNG including more remote areas and the Solomon Islands for businesses though things like training, education, health services and tourism,” Gary says. “And it’s right in our backyard.”

The recent announcement that the United States will partner with Australia and Papua New Guinea to redevelop the Manus Island naval base will also offer opportunities for North Queenslander businesses.
“There will be significant commercial opportunities for Cairns in terms of shipbuilding and maintenance and in training, remote power needs, health and services like water treatment plants,” Gary adds. “I think Cairns, in terms of working with both PNG and the Pacific, is at a very interesting point in time.”
QantasLink’s recent announcement that it is resuming its direct daily flights to Port Moresby, offering about 1000 seats per week, along with the regular Air Niugini services out of Cairns, also enhances business potential.

“Having EiiC centre in Cairns is very exciting and pretty significant, and not many regional cities have a centre like this,” Gary says. “We’re part of a global village now; we’re not just a part of North Queensland.”

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