Political Relations
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Political Relations

India opened its High Commission in Port Moresby in April 1996. Earlier, diplomatic relations with Papua New Guinea (PNG) were conducted from Suva and later from Kuala Lumpur. PNG also opened its resident diplomatic Mission in New Delhi in October, 2006.

India and PNG enjoy warm and friendly relations. They share a commonality of views on most global issues. The two countries have been working closely in international fora including the Commonwealth, Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations Organization.

Visits from PNG to India

PNG Foreign Minister Sam Abal paid a four-day visit to India in July 2009. This was the first ever bilateral Ministerial visit between the two countries. FM Abal called on External Affairs Minister, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Minister of State for Science & Technology, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas. He indicated his government’s desire to strengthen political as well as economic & commercial bilateral relations, particularly in the fields of energy, education, telecommunications and IT.

Mr. Richard Maru, PNG Minister of Trade, Commerce & Industry visited India in January 2013 to attend the Partnership Summit 2013. He was accompanied by a delegation consisting of Mr. Sasindran Muthuvel, Governor of West New Britain province and officials of Investment Promotion Agency. He held bilateral talks with Shri Anand Sharma, Minister of Commerce & Industry.

Mr. William Duma, PNG Minister for Petroleum & Energy was invited as Chief Guest at the Founding Day celebrations of Petronet LNG Ltd. in New Delhi on 2nd April, 2013. Mr. Duma, visited India from 30th March to 3rd April, 2013 and was accompanied by an 8-member delegation, which included senior officials of his Ministry, an Adviser from PM’s office and a few businessmen. Apart from the programme organised by Petronet for delegation, including meetings with Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and visit to Petronet’s Dahej Terminal and ONGC’s facilities at Bombay High, Mr. Duma also paid a courtesy call on Minister of State (PK) in the Ministry of External Affairs on 2nd April, 2013.

Brig. Gen. Francis Agwi, Chief of PNGDF, visited India in June, 2013 to attend the passing out ceremony of PNGDF cadet officer at the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun. During the trip, he also had meetings with Chief of Indian Army, Chief of Indian Navy and Vice-Chief of Indian Air Force in New Delhi.

PNG Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, visited India for the 2nd FIPIC Summit held in Jaipur on 21 August, 2015, and outlined PNG’s desire to see greater engagement by India with Pacific Island nations in the field of climate change, natural disasters, healthcare, education and other areas. He also held a bilateral meeting with the Hon'ble Prime Minister on the sidelines of the Summit.

A Parliamentary delegation, led by Speaker Theodore Zurenuoc, visited India on 26-30 August, 2013. This is to bolster Parliamentary linkages between the two Commonwealth Parliamentary democracies.

Ms. Janet Sape, President/Founder of PNG Women in Business, participated in the Distinguished Visitors Programme which was held in India from 8-17 February, 2016.

A 25-member PNG delegation led by Hon. Richard Maru, Minister for National Planning & Monitoring, including Hon. Sam Basil, Minister for ICT and Energy, Hon. Nick Kuman, Minister for Education and Hon. Sasindran Muthuvel, Governor of West New Britain, visited India from 10 to 16 December 2017

A PNG delegation led by Hon. Sam Basil, Minister for ICT and Energy visited India to attend the Founding Conference of the International Solar Alliance held in New Delhi on 11 March 2018.

Visits from India to PNG

As a follow-up of the visit of PNG Minister for Petroleum & Energy to India, Petronet/OVL delegations visited PNG twice and held extensive discussions with State-owned Petromin LNG Holdings Ltd. and various stakeholders in the LNG sector. An in-principle agreement was reached with Petromin for India off-taking of 22.5% gas from the proposed Gulf LNG Project. Discussions were also held with InterOil and others concerned for possible Indian participation in the Gulf LNG Project.

Shri Sanjay Bhattacharyya, Joint Secretary (South), Ministry of External Affairs visited Port Moresby on April 9 – 10, 2013. He held bilateral consultations at the Foreign Office with Deputy Secretary, Mr. Joseph Varo. He called on Chief of Defence Forces Brig Gen Agwi and discussed various areas of mutual cooperation in the Defence Sector. In his meeting with Amb Isaac Lupari, Principal Secretary to PM, he said that three drafts, viz. Investment, Double Taxation & Technical Cooperation will be taken up seriously and prepared for signing during future visits. Amb. Lupari reiterated the desirability of increased Indian engagement in the natural gas and infrastructure development including power sector.

The first ever visit of the Hon’ble President of India to PNG: Hon’ble President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, paid a two-day State visit to Papua New Guinea from 28 to 29 April, 2016, at the invitation of the Governor General of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Grand Chief Sir Michael Ogio. During the visit, four MoUs were signed, which include (a) Agriculture Research Cooperation between University of Technology, Lae (PNG), and Indian Council for Agricultural Research (India); (b) Cooperation in the Health Sector; (c) an Indian Line of Credit for Development of Infrastructure in PNG; and (d) an MoU for Setting up a Centre of Excellence in IT by India in PNG.

A three-member Indian delegation led by Dr. M. Rajeevan, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, participated in the 3rd Ministerial Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES) Conference which was held in Port Moresby on 23-25 August, 2017.

Aid/Technical Assistance

India has been assisting PNG in their capacity-building efforts by way of training under Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation Programme. So far, nearly 350 candidates have availed training in India, including PNG Defence personnel. This year, India offered 10 civilian scholarships and 23 defence training slots for Defence personnel under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation in addition to three General Scholarships offered by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations. India has also offered humanitarian aid and disaster relief to PNG from time to time as it is prone to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, etc. As part of our Regional Assistance Initiative for Pacific Island Countries, GOI offered annual grants-in-aid to PNG for supply of equipment and material for social programmes.During the year 2016-17, India supplied ARV medicines worth more than US$10 million to HIV/AIDS patients in Papua New Guinea as humanitarian aid. During 2017-18, grant-in-aid worth US$7,60,589/- was provided to the Government of Papua New Guinea for procurement of IT equipment, school books and executing a project for solar lighting for schools and communities in the PNG Prime Minister's Electorate Ialibu Pangia.

Economic & Commercial Relations

PNG’s population is around 8 million and GDP is US $ 20 billion. It is a resource rich country. India’s engagement has progressively increased with PNG both in trade and investment. India’s exports to PNG were US $ 36.35 million and imports were US $ 108.06 million in 2016-17. The main items of exports to PNG include textiles, machinery & equipment, food items, manufactured goods, pharmaceuticals, surgical items, soap, washing powder, paper pulp, etc. However, these are not reflective of the actual trade since import of many Indian goods is via third countries. The main imports to India from PNG are gold, copper ores & concentrates, timber, copra, marine products, coffee, vanilla and cocoa.

Indian companies are now progressively looking at the various projects coming up in PNG, consequent to discovery of Natural Gas in Southern Highland Province, being developed with massive investments by Exxon Mobil. Similarly, gas discoveries in Western and Gulf Provinces are being developed and Indian companies can participate in the associated projects. A consortium of Petronet Ltd. & OVL is trying for some of the mid and downstream projects associated with these fields as well as off-take of gas. Some gas blocks are also up for exploration. So far, 3 consortium delegation visits for negotiations has taken place. An MOU has been initialled and likely to be executed soon.

Similarly, growth in commerce and trade, especially in Indian white goods and processed foods is likely to increase as the PNG market expands. Various agreements like Technical Cooperation, Bilateral Investment Promotion & Double Taxes Avoidance (DTAA) are under negotiations.

A Business Seminar, in conjunction with a visit of the business delegation from PNG to participate in the IITF 2012, was organised in November, 2012. The PNG delegation included officials from PNG Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) , PNG Power, Mineral Resources Development Company (MRDC), Cocoa Board and National Fisheries Authority. It was also reported that Indian investors had shown interest for setting up a gold refinery in PNG.

As part of the market expansion activities, the High Commission organized a Seminar on India’s Investment and Trade Potential in PNG at the BizCentre of the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry on 27 November 2012. Apart from the members of the local business community, the attendees in the Seminar included officials from PNG Investment Promotion Authority, Oxford Business Group, Essar Group and businessmen of Indian origin based in PNG and Australia. Samples of Indian spices(supplied by Adani Group), basmati rice (by APEDA), Indian tea (by Tea Board) and ayurvedic medicines (by Baidyanath) were displayed. The samples were also appropriately displayed at different hired commercial spots in Port Moresby.

The first-ever CII delegation from India paid a 4-day visit to Papua New Guinea from 14-18 February, 2016, to explore business opportunities, and had fruitful meetings and interactions with a number of high ranking dignitaries, including the Prime Minister, in latter’s office. The delegation called on Minister of Trade, Commerce & Industry, and had useful interactions with various dignitaries including the (a) Minister for Tourism Arts and Culture, (b) Governor of West New Britain Province, (c) NCD Governor, (d) Minister for Mines, (e) Governor of the Western Highlands Province, and other high level dignitaries at different events.

The delegation was also hosted by a number of dignitaries, including (a) the Ministry/Minister of Health, (b) Minister of Public Enterprises and State Investments; (c) Minister for Petroleum; (d) Governor of Hela Province; and (e) Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. The Prime Minister's wife, on whom the lady delegation members called on, also hosted them at the National Parliament of PNG.
The Indian Naval Ship 'Sahyadri', commanded by Captain Anil Jaggi with more than 200 crew members on board, paid a goodwill visit to Port Moresby from 12 to 15 June, 2017. High Commissioner of India and Captain Anil Jaggi jointly hosted a Dinner on Board on 13 June for about 300 dignitaries from PNG Defence Forces, relevant Ministries, Diplomatic Missions and Indian business/community members. This was the second visit in series, the first one was from 22 to 24 July, 2006, by the Indian Missile Frigate Naval Ship 'Tabar'.

Cultural Relations

India Association of PNG, in association with the High Commission, celebrates a gala cultural event ‘India Nite’ in Port Moresby every year. In 2012, more than 600 persons participated in the event where performance of Siddhi Dhamal Dance troupe, sent by ICCR, was the main attraction. The performance was attended by political and business elite of the country and members of the diplomatic corps. The Siddhi Dhamal dance troupe also performed at the open Jack Pidik Park in Port Moresby on 28th October. This show was hosted by the Governor of NCDC and was attended by several hundreds of Papua New Guineans from all walks of life including several from the settlements around Port Moresby.

In association with the University of Papua New Guinea, the Mission organised an Indian Film Festival at the University amphitheatre from 7-12 June, 2013. The High Commissioner inaugurated the festival at which a large number of University staff and students as also members of the Indian community were present. Six DVDs provided by the Ministry of External Affairs were screened at the festival. At a separate function in March 2013, a set of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi was presented to the University of PNG Library by the High Commissioner.

At a function organised at the State Function Hall in the Parliament High Commissioner presented the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi in sixty six volumes to the National Parliament Library. Several dignitaries, including Prime Minister, Ministers, Governors, Members of Parliament, officials, invitees from all walks of life and media persons were present during the function. Hon. Theodore Zurenuoc, Speaker, in his address said that leaders in this county, as elsewhere in the world, could emulate Mahatma Gandhi’s life and teachings for enhancing peace in the strife-torn world. He thanked Government of India for presenting these books which will be a “treasure for the National Parliament Library.” Touching upon the excellent political relations with India, he said that people-to-people contacts have been extensive. He specifically mentioned the good work being done by Indian teachers and officials in the field of education.

Indian Community

There are about 3000 Indians in PNG working at various projects including the PNG LNG project. Other professionals include chartered accountants, university and school teachers, doctors, IT and finance, missionary workers, etc. Some Indians are also working in Government departments at middle executive levels.

The Indian Association of PNG has been carrying out charitable activity and developmental work in PNG. Similarly, Missionaries from India, including Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity are helping in social work.


April 2018