Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is rich in natural resources, including minerals, oil, gas, timber, and fish, and produces a variety of commercial agricultural products. The economy generally can be separated into subsistence and market sectors, although the distinction is blurred by smallholder cash cropping of coffee, cocoa, and copra. Approximately 75% of the country's population relies primarily on the subsistence economy. The minerals, timber, and fish sectors are dominated by foreign investors.
Manufacturing continued to be slow in 2007. The service industry was stable, while tourism shows potential and remains largely untapped. Generally, economic activity continued to grow in 2007. The growth was boosted by favorable international commodity prices. Employment grew modestly. The financial sector enjoyed high liquidity, with increased lending due to low interest rates. Inflation remained low.
Mineral and Oil Resources
Papua New Guinea is richly endowed with gold, copper, oil, natural gas, and other minerals. In 2006 minerals and oil export receipts accounted for 82% of GDP. Government revenues and foreign exchange earnings depend heavily on mineral and oil exports. Indigenous landowners in areas affected by minerals projects also receive royalties from those operations. Copper and gold mines are currently in production at Porgera, Ok Tedi, Misima, and Lihir. A consortium led by Exxon/Mobil signed a final investment decision in December 2009 to begin the commercialization of the country's estimated 22.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves through the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) production facility. Interoil, an American-owned firm, opened Papua New Guinea's first oil refinery in 2004 and is also building a second liquefied natural gas production facility which it aims to complete by 2012 with production capacity of 32,500 barrels of product per day.
Agriculture, Timber, and Fish
Papua New Guinea also produces and exports valuable agricultural, timber, and marine products. Agriculture currently accounts for 13% of GDP and supports more than 75% of the population. Cash crops ranked by value are coffee, oil, cocoa, copra, tea, rubber, and sugar. About 40% of the country is covered with exploitable trees, but a domestic woodworking industry has been slow to develop. A number of Southeast Asian companies are active in the timber industry, but World Bank and other donors have withdrawn support from the sector over concern for unregulated deforestation and environmental damage. Recently enacted forestry legislation has exacerbated those concerns. Papua New Guinea has an active tuna industry, but much of the catch is made by boats of other nations fishing in Papua New Guinea waters under license. Papua New Guinea is a signatory to the South Pacific Tuna Treaty (SPTT), under which U.S. purse seiners fish for tuna in the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of the Pacific Island parties. Locally produced fish exports are confined primarily to shrimp.
In general, the Papua New Guinea economy is highly dependent on imports for manufactured goods. Its industrial sector--exclusive of mining--accounts for only 9% of GDP and contributes little to exports. Small-scale industries produce beer, soap, concrete products, clothing, paper products, matches, ice cream, canned meat, fruit juices, furniture, plywood, and paint. The small domestic market, relatively high wages, and high transport costs are constraints to industrial development.
Trade and Investment
Australia, Singapore, and Japan are the principal exporters to Papua New Guinea. Petroleum and mining machinery and aircraft have been the strongest U.S. exports to Papua New Guinea.
Australia is Papua New Guinea's most important export market, followed by Japan and the European Union. The U.S. imports modest amounts of gold, copper ore, cocoa, coffee, and other agricultural products from Papua New Guinea. Most of those exports take place through third countries.
With the 2003 withdrawal of Chevron/Texaco, Australian companies are the most active in developing Papua New Guinea's mining and petroleum sectors. Exxon/Mobil retains a major share of natural gas reserves and is constructing a liquefied natural gas processing facility. Interoil, backed by an Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) loan, operates an oil refinery in Port Moresby and in September 2010 signed an agreement with Energy World Corporation (EWC) to complete front-end engineering and design and a final investment decision to establish the second LNG project in the country. China is increasing its investment in Papua New Guinea, including development of the $1 billion Ramu nickel mine.
Papua New Guinea became a participating economy in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in 1993. It joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1996. It is an observer at ASEAN and a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum. It has preferential tariff agreements with the markets of Melanesian and Pacific Island neighbors through the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Trade Agreement and the Pacific Islands Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA).
Development Programs and Aid
Australia is by far the largest bilateral aid donor to Papua New Guinea, offering about $355 million a year in assistance. Budgetary support, which has been provided in decreasing amounts since independence, was phased out in 2000, with aid concentrated on project development. In 2004, Australia and Papua New Guinea embarked on the Enhanced Cooperation Program (ECP), under which Australia agreed to provide direct assistance, including 210 line police officers, to the Papua New Guinea constabulary. The ECP met with initial success, but was abruptly ended when Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court stripped Australian police officers of immunity in May 2005. Virtually all ECP personnel left Papua New Guinea following the court's decision. The governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia are now involved in protracted negotiations on a scaled-down version of the ECP.
Other major sources of aid to Papua New Guinea are Japan, the European Union, the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, the United Nations, the Asian Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. Volunteers from a number of countries and mission church workers also provide education, health, and development assistance throughout the country. Foreign assistance to Papua New Guinea is approximately $46 per capita. The U.S. funds a $1.5 million-per-year HIV/AIDS project in Papua New Guinea.
Current Economic Conditions
After years of decline and government deficit, Papua New Guinea was bolstered in recent years by a general rise in commodity prices and by government steps toward spending control. The economy continues to grow modestly and the government recorded a modest surplus in 2007. However, the economic improvements are based almost entirely on high commodity prices and the nation continues to have serious problems of corruption, a lack of law and order, land tenure concerns stifling investment, political interference in business, and a lack of political will to adopt needed sweeping reforms.
Nominal GDP (2008): U.S. $6.39 billion; PGK 18.72 billion.
Average exchange rate (2008): U.S. $1 = PGK 2.7.
Real GDP growth rate (2008): 4.5%.
Inflation rate (2009): 7.0%.
Per capita GDP (2008): U.S. $1,040.
Natural resources: Gold, copper ore, crude oil, natural gas, timber, fish, oil palm, tea, rubber, logs.
Forestry (4% of GDP); marine (1% of GDP); minerals and oil (82% of GDP).
Agriculture (13% of GDP): Major products--coffee, cocoa, coconuts, palm oil, timber, tea, vanilla.
Industry (25% of GDP): Major sectors--copra crushing; palm oil processing; plywood production; wood chip production; mining of gold, silver, and copper; construction; tourism; crude oil production, refined petroleum production.
Trade: Exports--66% of GDP: gold, copper ore, oil, timber, palm oil, coffee. Major markets (in order by value--high to low)--Australia, Japan, Philippines, Germany, South Korea, China, United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, and Malaysia. Imports--31% of GDP: machinery and transport equipment, vehicles, manufactured goods, food, mineral fuels, chemicals. Major suppliers (in order by value--high to low)--Australia, United States, Singapore, Japan, China, New Zealand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and United Kingdom.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea, a constitutional parliamentary democracy, recognizes Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. She is represented by a governor general who is elected by parliament and who performs mainly ceremonial functions. Papua New Guinea has three levels of government--national, provincial, and local. There is a 109-member unicameral parliament, whose members are elected every 5 years. The parliament in turn elects the prime minister, who appoints his cabinet from members of his party or coalition.
Members of parliament are elected from 19 provinces and the national capital district of Port Moresby. Parliament introduced reforms in June 1995 to change the provincial government system, with regional (at-large) members of parliament becoming provincial governors, while retaining their national seats in parliament.
Papua New Guinea's judiciary is independent of the government. It protects constitutional rights and interprets the laws. There are several levels, culminating in the Supreme Court.
Papua New Guinea's politics are highly competitive with most members elected on a personal and ethnic basis within their constituencies rather than as a result of party affiliation. Members of parliament are now elected in a limited preferential voting (LPV) system. There are several parties, but party allegiances are not strong. Winning independent candidates are usually courted in efforts to forge the majority needed to form a government, and allegiances are fluid. No single party has yet won enough seats to form a government in its own right.
Papua New Guinea has a history of changes in government coalitions and leadership from within parliament during the 5-year intervals between national elections. New governments are protected by law from votes of no confidence for the first 18 months of their incumbency, and no votes of no confidence may be moved in the 12 months preceding a national election. In an effort to create greater stability by reducing incessant votes of no confidence, the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC) was passed in 2001, forbidding members of each party in parliament from shifting loyalty to another party. In July 2010, the Supreme Court ruled certain provisions of the OLIPPAC unconstitutional, and as a result members of parliament were again free to move between political parties. Soon after the Supreme Court ruling, three government ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Puka Temu, resigned from the government and joined the opposition in a bid to move a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Michael Somare. The bid was unsuccessful because the Speaker of Parliament did not allow a vote to be taken on the motion before adjourning parliament until November.
In 2003, the electoral system was changed to limited preferential voting, which has begun to encourage politicians to strike alliances and to be responsive to constituent concerns once elected. The new system was used in the 2007 national general elections. However, 53 election petitions disputing returns were registered with the courts. Allegations included bribery, intimidation, block voting, and undue influence.
On Bougainville Island, a 10-year rebellion was halted by a truce in 1997 and a permanent cease-fire was signed in April 1998. A peace agreement between the Government and ex-combatants was signed in August 2001. Under the eyes of a regional peace-monitoring force and a UN observer mission, the government and provincial leaders established an interim administration and made significant progress toward complete surrender/destruction of weapons. A constitution was drafted in 2004 and provincial government elections were held in May 2005. The elections were deemed to be free and fair by international observers, and Joseph Kabui was elected to serve as the first president of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG). Bougainvilleans also participated in Papua New Guinea national elections in 2007 to elect representatives to the national parliament. Kabui died of a heart attack in June 2008. James Tanis was elected President of the ABG in December 2008. Presidential and parliamentary elections were held in May 2010, and John Momis was elected President. A referendum was tentatively agreed to be held between 2015 and 2020, 10 to 15 years following formation of the ABG. Progress has been slow with the ABG initially focusing on disarmament, peace, and reconciliation. A small percentage of former fighters have created illegal "no go zones," particularly in the Central and South Bougainville.
Principal Government Officials
Governor General--Paulias Matane
Prime Minister--Michael Somare
Deputy Prime Minister--Puka Temu
Foreign Minister--Samuel Abal
Ambassador to the United Nations--Robert Aisi
Ambassador to the United States--Evan Paki
Papua New Guinea maintains an embassy at 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-745-3680; fax 202-745-3679). The Papua New Guinea mission to the United Nations is at 801 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-682-6447).
Type: Constitutional parliamentary democracy.
Constitution: September 16, 1975.
Branches: Executive--Queen Elizabeth II (head of state, represented by a governor general); prime minister (head of government). Legislative--unicameral parliament. Judicial--independent; highest is Supreme Court.
Administrative subdivisions: 19 provinces and the national capital district (Port Moresby).
Major political parties: National Alliance (NA), People's Progress Party (PPP), United Resources Party (URP), PNG Party (PNGP).
Suffrage: Universal over 18 years of age.
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