December 13, 2016 / 6:49 AM / 3 years ago

China to build $4 bln industrial park in Papua New Guinea

SYDNEY, Dec 13 (Reuters) - China has agreed to spend nearly $4 billion to build a giant industrial park in the Papua New Guinean jungle, the island nation’s treasurer said on Tuesday.

Investors from Shenzhen, China’s third largest city, have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a series of processing and manufacturing plants at two industrial parks in West Sepia province, a dense jungle region 30 kms (20 miles) from the Indonesian border, the treasurer, Patrick Pruaitch, said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

Plans call for large-scale processing of timber products, fisheries, cassava and tropical spices at one park. An adjacent park will tailor to Shenzhen-based companies that want to produce steel, cement and other industrial products, according to Pruaitch.

The projects are to be developed in phases at a final cost of $3.8 billion.

A spokesman for the treasurer said the government hoped to see construction starting next year, but the plans at this stage were “very long term.”

Metallurgical Corporation of China, which built a $2 billion nickel mine in Papua New Guinea in 2012, is expected to be the main construction contractor.

The spokesman said the projects were a part of China’s “One Belt, One Road policy, even though the initiative is aimed at connecting Asia to Europe and Africa via a 21st Century version of the ancient Silk Road east-west trade route that didn’t include the South Pacific.

Another agreement between Papua New Guinea and business interests from Fujian Province, which is also looking at major investments, including the idea of starting a “furniture city” in the country, is close to being signed, the spokesman added. (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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