As the largest Pacific Island country, a likeminded democracy, APEC member, and regional energy provider, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a key partner for the United States in the Indo-Pacific region.
The United States will continue to partner with PNG on strengthening economic relations, security cooperation, and people-to-people ties, as well as promoting inclusive and sustainable development, including through plans to work with Congress to provide over $45 million in new programming.
The United States and Papua New Guinea: Partners for Peace and Prosperity
- The United States is committing to work with Congress to provide an additional $10 million to Implement the Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability (SPCPS) in PNG, bringing our total planned funding thus far to $30 million over three years: On March 24, 2023, President Biden transmitted to Congress the 10-year plan for implementing the Strategy in PNG. The plan will align and integrate U.S. activities in PNG to address the shared objectives of strengthening community capacity to prevent, mitigate, and respond to violence, including gender-based violence; supporting sustainable and equitable economic growth; and improving justice systems and professionalizing security forces. These efforts will elevate gender equity, equality, and women’s empowerment.
- Announce Launch of 2+2 Strategic Dialogue with Papua New Guinea: This strategic dialogue would deepen our diplomatic and security relationship with PNG, an important Indo-Pacific Partner. The strategic dialogue would discuss how key programs, including the Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability, tie into the overall objective of a strong bilateral relationship.
- Signing of U.S.-Papua New Guinea Bilateral Defense Cooperation Agreement: Today Secretary Blinken and Prime Minister Marape signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement, which, when it enters into force, will serve as a foundational framework upon which our two countries can enhance security cooperation and further strengthen our bilateral relationship, improve the capacity of the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF), and increase stability and security in the region. The United States expects to publish the text of the Defense Cooperation Agreement after entry into force, consistent with U.S. law.
- Announce Exploration of U.S. Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) Support for PNG: Following the announced signed DCA and to further ongoing U.S.-PNG dialogue, the United States will form a working group with PNG, to include USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (HA/DR) and the U.S. Department of Defense, to explore partnerships on supporting regional training exercises and potential HA/DR warehousing for disaster preparedness.
- Supplying $12.4 Million in Equipment to PNG Defence Force: On May 19, 2023, the U.S. Department of Defense provided the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) with $5.4 million worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) funded by the Department of State’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. The PPE includes ballistic helmets, flak vests with armor plates, elbow pads, knee pads, and eye protection, and will be provided to PNGDF members deployed to the border and domestically for security operations. The U.S. Department of Defense also intends to provide PNGDF $7 million in support to procure dress uniforms and name tags for the upcoming PNG 50th Independence Celebrations in 2025. This assistance is a step toward deepening the defense relationship between our countries while also demonstrating our commitment, dedication, and investment in the future of PNG.
- Signing of a Bilateral Agreement to Counter Illicit Transnational Maritime Activity: Today, Secretary Blinken and PNG Prime Minister Marape signed a comprehensive bilateral agreement to counter illicit transnational maritime activity through joint at-sea operations. This agreement will enable the U.S. Coast Guard’s Shiprider program to partner with and enhance PNG’s maritime governance capacity, enabling them to exercise their authority and enforce their laws and regulations where they have jurisdiction. Notably, this agreement will help to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing by closing global gaps in enforcement; improving cooperation, coordination, and interoperability; and building PNG’s overall maritime governance capacity.
- Papua New Guinea Transnational Organized Crime (P-TOC) Program: The United States plans to provide $4 million, subject to Congressional notification, to support PNG’s ability to address transnational organized crime-enabled corruption and money laundering. This U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement-funded program will provide technical assistance and advisory services to enable PNG authorities to conduct high-quality investigations, prosecutions, asset recovery, and reinvestment of proceeds of crime.
The United States and Papua New Guinea: Progressing on Sustainable and Inclusive Development
- Supporting High-Quality Census and Statistics: The United States Census Bureau, through support from USAID, will work with the PNG National Statistics Office to strengthen its statistical capacity to produce high-quality census data, which will support domestic programming and service delivery as well as elections.
- Supporting PNG to Tackle the Climate Crisis and Promote Stability: Through USAID, the United States will provide an additional $12.5 million to help PNG strengthen the critical resources and systems needed to make communities more climate resilient. USAID plans to increase PNG’s access to renewable energy and climate resilient water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) systems, support nature-based solutions, and protect the country’s biodiversity. USAID also plans to enhance the ability of communities, civil society, and democratic institutions in PNG to more effectively prevent and respond to conflict and increase the safe, meaningful participation of vulnerable groups, particularly women, in political, social, and economic spheres.
- PEPFAR Support to Address HIV/AIDS in PNG: The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) intends to provide $5 million, subject to Congressional notification, to address HIV/AIDS in PNG, inclusive of technical assistance to local clinics and communities to improve HIV case identification, linkages to treatment, and increase retention of people living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy.
- Co-host a Peace and Security Conflict Assessment in PNG with the World Bank and Australia: To advance Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability (SPCPS) goals and leverage U.S. and partner resources and expertise, USAID will join Australia and the World Bank for an adaptive learning event on peace and security programming, followed by a joint conflict assessment in Morobe province. USAID plans to provide $500,000, working with Congress, to support this collaborative partner effort, and Australia plans to provide $200,000. The impact of this effort elevates the vital importance of donor collaboration and leveraging resources to maximize planned SPCPS outcomes.
- Technical Capacity Building and Cooperation with Mineral Resources Authority: The U.S. Department of State intends to provide $1.25 million in technical assistance and expert advisory support to build PNG’s institutional capacity to strengthen investment and regulatory frameworks; support competitive and transparent tender processes for mineral resource assets; undertake mineral resource geoscience capacity building; and develop sustainable mining sector strategies.
- Expanding Electricity Access Through the PNG Electrification Partnership: Since 2020, USAID’s support for the multi-country PNG Electrification Partnership, which aims to expand electricity access to 70 percent of Papua New Guineans by 2030, has improved energy access for over 600,000 Papua New Guineans. Seventy-two percent of new household connections were through off-grid technologies, including solar power, to support remote rural communities and key infrastructure like health and education facilities.
Sources: THX News & US Department of State.