Doing business

Business culture

Business tips

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

Meeting clients or customers for the first time requires patience in conversations. Greet and give them opportunity to start the conversation. If they’ve met you before, they may call you ‘mate’ or ‘wantok’. ‘Wantok’ in Papua New Guinea (PNG) means a ‘friend’ or from the same province or region. It may also mean people of the ‘same tribe’ or have ‘traditional relations’. Traditionally ‘wantoks’ are required to help others from the same family, tribe or region. Many PNG nationals feel obliged to assist their ‘wantoks’ in times of need. This obligation can have detrimental effects when it is incorporated into a capitalistic or ‘Western’ way of life or method of doing business.

PNG people value more face to face conversations for meetings. Give them more confidence in business discussions. Keeping in contact with business partners is important when doing business in PNG. Using the same person for meetings is advisable as well. PNG business people feel comfortable talking to people they know. Doing follow-ups and checking on their progress is key as well. Better to have scheduled monthly meetings for updates and maintain healthy business relationships.

Written laws in PNG including Business laws are based on English legal principles. Have clear written agreements for any level of service engagement from credit accounts, supplying products, insurance and others. Obtain appropriate advise from professional PNG based business advisors.

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 neck 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.

Setting up in Papua New Guinea

Finding the right partner

Relationships are crucial in Papua New Guinea. Finding and working closely with the right partner is the key to achieving success in the market. Whether dealing with an agent, distributor, wholesaler, retailer or end user, exporters should do their own due diligence on potential options. This should include visits 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 Papua New Guinea, 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.

Banking and finance

A wide range of banking and finance facilities are available throughout Papua New Guinea. 

The banking sector is serviced by three major banks, ANZ, Westpac, 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.

Personal Property Security Register 

If your business with Papua New Guinea involves the supply of movable property or fixtures (usually equipment or goods on lease, deferred payment or other credit terms), you need to be aware of the Personal Property Security Register. The following information should help you to protect your interests (or priority) against other creditors.

  • To protect yourself, you need to register your interests online. This will secure the obligation to you ahead of any others. It can also protect you from having your equipment or goods offered as collateral to other creditors.
  • While a 180 day transition period applies, this is only relevant when registering interests that are already held. New business transactions and interests need to be registered before (or as close as possible to) the physical ownership transaction.
  • Exporters who anticipate the need to register a security interest are required to establish a client account with the register. Establishment of the client account and registration of a security interest can both be completed online.
  • The register is hosted by the PNG Investment Promotion Authority, which is also a good source of information on doing business in Papua New Guinea.
  • If you don’t register your interests, you may have little protection and could lose priority over other creditors.
  • Legal or financial companies with experience in PNG are the best source of advice on the register and how it might impact on your business in this market.
  • Austrade can provide referrals to suitable companies.

Links and resources

Government, business and trade

Australia Papua New Guinea Business Council
Business Council of Papua New Guinea
Investment Promotion Authority
Lae Chamber of Commerce
Papua New Guinea Internal Revenue Commission
PNG Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry


News and media

Post-Courier Online
The National Online
Business Advantage International has a free weekly subscription news feed on PNG

Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.