Last updated in March 2015
Diplomatic relations between Papua New Guinea and Germany were established on 16 September 1976, exactly one year after the country gained its independence from Australia. Political relations between the two countries are friendly and untroubled. The German Ambassador in Canberra, Australia, is also accredited to Papua New Guinea. Eberhard Pfeiffer has been Germany’s Honorary Consul in Port Moresby since the closure of the German Embassy in Papua New Guinea in 2000.
In 2013, bilateral trade was worth approximately EUR 273.4 million, with German imports from Papua New Guinea worth EUR 247.2 million and German exports to Papua New Guinea EUR 26.2 million, putting Papua New Guinea in 88th place among Germany’s foreign trading partners in terms of German imports and 162rd place in terms of German exports.
Trade relations between Germany and Papua New Guinea are characterised by a large balance of trade surplus in the latter’s favour. Though there are currently no major German companies located in the country, German business has a presence there – mostly via sales channels in Australia.
Germany supports Papua New Guinea’s economic, social and cultural development, in particular through its substantial contributions to the European Union. The EU is the region’s second biggest development aid donor, after Australia, the partner countries being allocated funding for various projects and programmes in accordance with Country Strategy Papers. Under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), a total of EUR 187.2 million has been earmarked for Papua New Guinea for the period 2014 to 2020. Priority areas of the 11th EDF in Papua New Guinea are supporting economic development in rural areas and supporting the development of human resources, in particular basic education and vocational training.
Papua New Guinea is also closely involved in German cooperation on climate policy with the countries of the South Pacific Region. In early 2010, the country’s Environment Minister attended the Petersberg Climate Dialogue and participants from Papua New Guinea were among those present at the International Workshop on Seismology, Seismic Hazard and Tsunami Early Warning organised by the Potsdam-based German Research Centre for Geosciences in July 2010. In 2010 and 2011, officials from Papua New Guinea’s Department of Foreign Affairs took part in a four-week training course for diplomats in Berlin at the invitation of the Federal Foreign Office.
The project Adapting to Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region, which runs from 2009 to 2015 and is being implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), is active in two of Papua New Guinea’s provinces: Central Province and Milne Bay Province. From 2008 to 2012, Germany’s Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) funded a project to create Papua New Guinea’s first official conservation area. It is located on the Huon Peninsula, north of the town of Lae. Reducing deforestation in the 76,000-hectare area also contributes to climate protection. From 2008 to 2010, the BMU provided funding for the so-called Coral Triangle Initiative in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia: an extensive marine conservation area was created near New Britain Island to increase Papua New Guinea’s resilience to climate change. In late 2011, another GIZ-initiated, BMU-funded regional project was launched in a pilot region of Papua New Guinea. The project promotes measures to conserve tropical forests as a contribution to climate protection.
There are also various church-affiliated development projects run by the Catholic and Protestant missions in Papua New Guinea, some of which are supported by Federal Government funding. German missionaries have been working in Papua New Guinea for more than 100 years, making substantial contributions, especially in terms of schooling and vocational training.
In addition, the German Embassy in Canberra, which is responsible for Papua New Guinea, supports a number of small-scale projects in the country, particularly in the education sector. Over the past few years, funds have been made available to provide solar-generated electricity to schools and medical facilities.
The EU has denounced Papua-New Guinea’s reintroduction of the death penalty in 2013.
The northern part of Papua New Guinea was a German colony from 1884 until 1914. A colonial-era villa still exists in the remote town of Finschhafen, Germany’s first administrative seat, and the remains of a more than 100-year-old German cemetery are to be found in the town of Madang. In addition, many geographical names still testify to Germany and Papua New Guinea’s brief shared history, e.g. Mount Wilhelm, the country’s highest mountain in the Bismarck Range.
In 2012, a Federal Foreign Office-funded exhibition on German-Pacific relations past and present went on show in the town of Kokopo in East New Britain Province.