Local Bilateral Relationship
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 (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.
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 issues from improving transparency and good governance, to combating trafficking in persons, curbing the effects of climate change, protecting fisheries, improving public health, and promoting gender equality. Their militaries have had a cooperative security assistance relationship that has 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 and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Country Office are both located in Papua New Guinea. 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. United States 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 United States also supports efforts to improve the country’s disaster preparedness and response. In 2015 and 2016 the United States provided funding for relief efforts in a number of Papua New Guinea’s provinces that had suffered from natural disasters caused by continuous heavy rain. U.S. military forces, through 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
Petroleum and mining machinery and aircraft have been the strongest U.S. exports to Papua New Guinea. The United States imports modest amounts of gold, copper ore, cocoa, coffee, and other agricultural products from Papua New Guinea. The ExxonMobil-led liquefied natural gas project 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 United States Government currently provides $21 million per year to Pacific Island parties. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, in 2016 the United States exported $126.8 million worth of goods to Papua New Guinea and imported $91.8 million worth.
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 will host APEC in 2018, culminating in a leaders’ summit in November 2018.