Ambassador Erin Elizabeth McKee
U.S. Relations With Papua New Guinea
U.S.-Papua New Guinea Relations
The U.S. established diplomatic relations with Papua New Guinea in 1975, following its independence from a United Nations trusteeship administered by Australia. As the most populous Pacific Island state (7.8 million: 2013 estimate), Papua New Guinea is important to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. The country has experienced recent economic progress and has abundant energy, agricultural, and mineral resources. But it faces challenges including weak governance, corruption, limited capacity to deliver basic services, a deterioration of its health system, and a serious concentrated HIV/AIDS epidemic among key populations and in the Highland provinces.
U.S. Assistance to Papua New Guinea
U.S. bilateral and multilateral assistance funds public health programs in Papua New Guinea including the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), TB, and Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases and aims to advance the country's public health system. The U.S. Agency for International Development's Pacific Islands Regional Office is located in Manila, Philippines and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Country Office is located in Papua New Guinea. The U.S. builds the capacity and resilience of Papua New Guinea to adapt to climate change through regional assistance that covers 12 Pacific Island countries. U.S. assistance supports Papua New Guinea's efforts to protect biodiversity; it contributes to the Coral Triangle Initiative to preserve coral reefs, fisheries, and food security in six countries including Papua New Guinea. The U.S. also supports efforts to improve the country's disaster preparedness and response. In 2017, the U.S. provided funding for relief efforts in the Highlands which suffered from a magnitude 7.5 earthquake. U.S. military forces, through Indo-Pacific Command in Honolulu, Hawaii, provide training to the Papua New Guinea Defense Force and have held small-scale joint training and engineering exercises. The U.S. provides police and other education and training courses to national security officials. U.S. companies based in Papua New Guinea have also funded a range of health and development projects.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Petroleum and mining machinery and aircrafts have been the strongest U.S. exports to Papua New Guinea. The U.S. imports modest amounts of gold, copper ore, cocoa, coffee, and other agricultural products from Papua New Guinea. The ExxonMobil-led liquefied natural gas project, PNG LNG, has been a success for Papua New Guinea, hailed for its timely and close-to-budget construction and smooth operation. Papua New Guinea is a party to the U.S.-Pacific Islands Multilateral Tuna Fisheries Treaty, which provides access for U.S. fishing vessels in exchange for a license fee from the U.S. industry. Under a separate Economic Assistance Agreement (EAA) associated with the Treaty, the U.S. Government currently provides $21 million per year to Pacific Island parties. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, in 2016 the U.S. exported $126.8 million worth of goods to Papua New Guinea and imported $91.8 million worth.