Strengthening Ties: US and Papua New Guinea

The United States and Papua New Guinea (PNG) have a long-standing partnership based on mutual respect and shared values. As the largest Pacific Island country and a likeminded democracy, PNG plays a critical role in promoting peace, security, and economic prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. The United States is committed to strengthening this relationship by providing significant new funding and support in six key areas.

Commitment to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability

The United States is committed to supporting PNG’s efforts to prevent conflict and promote stability and will work with Congress to provide an additional $10 million to implement the Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability (SPCPS) in PNG. This brings total planned funding thus far to $30 million over three years. The 10-year plan for implementing the strategy will align and integrate US activities in PNG to address the shared objectives of strengthening community capacity to prevent, mitigate, and respond to violence, supporting sustainable and equitable economic growth, and improving justice systems and professionalizing security forces. The efforts will elevate gender equity, equality, and women’s empowerment.

Launch of 2+2 Strategic Dialogue

The United States has announced the launch of a 2+2 Strategic Dialogue with PNG to deepen diplomatic and security relationship with an important Indo-Pacific partner. The strategic dialogue would discuss how key programs, including the SPCPS, tie into the overall objective of a strong bilateral relationship.

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Bilateral Defense Cooperation Agreement

On May 22, Secretary Blinken signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) with PNG. It will serve as a foundational framework upon which the two countries can enhance security cooperation, 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 DCA after entry into force, consistent with US law.

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Exploration of US Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) Support

The United States will form a working group with PNG, to include USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (HA/DR) and the US Department of Defense, to explore partnerships on supporting regional training exercises and potential HA/DR warehousing for disaster preparedness.

Equipment for PNG Defense Force

The US Department of Defense has provided the PNG Defense Force 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 additionally intends to provide PNGDF $7 million in support to procure dress uniforms and name tags for the upcoming PNG 50th Independence Celebrations in 2025.

Bilateral Agreement to Counter Illicit Transnational Maritime Activity

On May 22, Secretary Blinken signed a comprehensive bilateral agreement to counter illicit transnational maritime activity through joint at-sea operations. This agreement will enable the US 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. The 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.

Progressing on Sustainable and Inclusive Development

The United States is committed to partnering with PNG to address climate change, support sustainable economic growth, and promote stability. US Government programs and initiatives to support PNG’s sustainable and inclusive development include:

  • 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.
  • 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 SPCPS goals and leverage US 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.
  • Technical Capacity Building and Cooperation with Mineral Resources Authority: The US 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.
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Conclusion

The strategic partnership between the United States and Papua New Guinea reflects a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region that fosters stability, trade, and prosperity. The US commitment to the region and to PNG is unwavering, and the announcements made recently demonstrate our dedication and investment in the future of PNG. The US is optimistic about the increased cooperation between our two countries and looks forward to continuing to strengthen this critical partnership.