More information about Papua New Guinea is available on the Papua New Guinea Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
U.S.-PAPUA NEW GUINEA RELATIONS
The United States 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 (8.4 million: 2018 estimate), Papua New Guinea is important to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. Over the past decade, the country has generally experienced economic growth. Papua New Guinea has abundant energy, agricultural, and mineral resources, but it faces challenges including a boom and bust economy, weak governance, corruption, limited capacity and infrastructure to deliver basic services, the deterioration of its health system, and a concentrated HIV/AIDS epidemic among key populations and in the Highland provinces.
The United States and Papua New Guinea have enjoyed a close friendship, and the U.S. Government seeks to enhance Papua New Guinea’s stability as a U.S. partner. The two countries work together on many mutual priorities from improving transparency and good governance, to combating trafficking in persons, curbing the effects of environmental insecurity, protecting fisheries, improving public health, and promoting gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, with an emphasis on increasing access to entrepreneurship. Our militaries have had a cooperative security assistance relationship focused primarily on joint humanitarian exercises and the training of Papua New Guinean military personnel.
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 currently located in Manila, Philippines, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Papua New Guinea team is supervised by CDC Bangkok. The United States builds the capacity and resilience of Papua New Guinea to adapt to climate change through regional assistance that covers 12 Pacific Island countries. The United States supports Papua New Guinea’s efforts to protect biodiversity, recently announcing a $19.6 million project to protect important ecosystems in northern Papua New Guinea. The United States also contributes to the Coral Triangle Initiative to preserve coral reefs, fisheries, and food security in six countries including Papua New Guinea. The United States supports efforts to improve the country’s disaster preparedness and response. In 2017, the United States 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 United States 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
According to U.S. Census Bureau data, in 2018 total trade in goods between the United States and Papua New Guinea was $177.1 million; U.S. goods exports were $87 million and goods imports were $90.1 million. Top goods exports to Papua New Guinea included machinery, electric machinery, and aircraft and aircraft parts. The United States primarily imports coffee, cocoa, and works of art from Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea’s foreign direct investment in the United States (inward) was $1.0. U.S. foreign direct investment in Papua New Guinea is not publicly available in order to avoid disclosure of data of individual companies. ExxonMobil has a significant presence in the country. 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. During the November 2018 APEC Summit, the United States joined the governments of Papua New Guinea (PNG), Australia, Japan and New Zealand in committing to support the PNG Electrification Partnership (PEP), which aims to increase household electrification from the current level of 15 percent to 70 percent by 2030. In 2019, the United States initiated a 5-year $60 million program in support of this partnership.
Papua New Guinea is eligible for preferences under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. Papua New Guinea is a party to the Treaty on Fisheries between the United States and 16 Pacific Island parties, which provides access for certain U.S. fishing vessels in exchange for industry payments and promotes broader cooperation. Under a separate Economic Assistance Agreement (EAA) associated with the Treaty, the United States Government provides $21 million per year to support economic development in the region through the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency.
Papua New Guinea’s Membership in International Organizations
Papua New Guinea and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, ASEAN Regional Forum, the Pacific Community, and Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme. Papua New Guinea also belongs to the Pacific Islands Forum, of which the United States is a Dialogue Partner. Papua New Guinea successfully hosted APEC in 2018, culminating in a Leaders’ Summit in November 2018 attended by Vice President Pence.
The U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea is Erin Elizabeth McKee. Other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
More information about Papua New Guinea is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here: