PAPUA New Guinea is increasingly becoming an important trade and development partner for the United States, and this is being underlined by the visit by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Mrs Clinton stops in Port Moresby next Thursday for a few hours enroute to New Zealand and Australia.
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration Minister Sam Abal said the visit, which is the first high profile one by president Barrack Obama’s administration, would give PNG prominence in the region.
Mr Abal said although short, the visit was a clear demonstration of how serious the US wants to deal with PNG and other Pacific nations.
In recent years, PNG has become one of the fastest growing import markets for the United States.
Sources say Bank of PNG statistics show “imports into PNG from the US has risen from K651 million or 13.8% of PNG’s total imports in 2005, to a record K1,908 million in 2008 or 22.6% of total PNG imports in that year.
“Imports from the US are second only to Australia’s K3,564 million and well ahead of the K950.6 million from Singapore in No 3 spot.
“While Australia’s exports to PNG rose by about 65% between 2005 and 2008, exports from the US to Australia rose by a massive 200%.”
The LNG project will be developed by ExxonMobil, an American company which is also one of the world’s largest.
The project is expected to boost PNG and US economies.
While environmental protection and women’s empowerment will be high on Mrs Clinton’s agenda, the LNG project will also be discussed when she hold talks with the Prime Minister, Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane and Mr Abal.
She is also tipped to talk to Environment and Conservation Minister Benny Allan, Community Development Minister Dame Carol Kidu and women leaders.
In a press conference yesterday, Mr Abal said PNG’s developmental policies and programmes will also be presented to Mrs Clinton.