The economic contrast between Australia and PNG is stark: Australia’s per-capita GDP (US$49,755) is around twenty times larger than Papua New Guinea’s (US$2,500). Trade between Australia and PNG is worth more than $5b annually: PNG imports from Australia include meat, crude oil, mining equipment and wheat; Australian imports from PNG including gold, crude oil, silver, platinum and coffee. The two countries share close business and investment links.

Economy of Papua New Guinea

Despite economic growth averaging above three percent each year, Papua New Guinea’s economy has struggled to keep pace with the country’s fast growing population. Overall economic wealth per capita has stagnated or declined slightly despite the contribution of major new resource projects.

Royalties from these projects dominate the government’s revenue sources, with a tiny formal economy making a limited contribution. The reliance on exports means the economy is subject to significant external pressures. Fluctuations in the price of commodities can have a dramatic impact on economic performance.

PNG’s government has set a 2030 target of lifting the country to ‘prosperous, middle-income’ status by 2030. The World Bank says the country must invest significantly in institutions, human capital and physical infrastructure to enable its future economic growth.

Economy of Australia

Australia is one of the world’s wealthiest nations and its economy has demonstrated resilience over a number of years with sustained levels of growth, employment and financial stability.  The country’s economy is dominated by services which account for more than two thirds of GDP. Export revenues from the mining, petroleum and agriculture industries are significant along with foreign education and tourism. Australia’s economy is largely an open one with minimal restrictions on trade.

Small business is a significant player in Australia’s economy: it contributes around a third of total industrial output and is responsible for around half of total employment.

Links & Resources

Australia links

Office of the Chief Economist – Industry Insights

Reserve Bank of Australia

Department of the Treasury

Business Council of Australia

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Council of Small Business Organisations Australia

Australian Industry Group



PNG links

Bank of Papua New Guinea

Department of Treasury

World Bank Country Brief – PNG

Asian Development Bank – Papua New Guinea brief

Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Investment Promotion Authority

Lae Chamber of Commerce and Industry

PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum

PNG Institute of National Affairs

Yellow Pages PNG

PNG Fact Sheet – DFAT

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Sanja Pepae - Assistant Secretary, Department of National Planning PNG - Lowy Institute

Sanja Pepae

Assistant Secretary, Department of National Planning PNG

ELD Year:

Papua New Guinea

Current Location:
Port Moresby

Sanja Pepae is a postgraduate student at the Australian National University in Canberra. Prior to taking on studies for his Masters in International and Development Economics, he was Assistant Secretary at the Department of National Planning and Monitoring in Port Moresby. He will return to work with the Department in 2019. Sanja graduated with first class honours in his Bachelor of Economics from the University of Papua New Guinea. He was heavily involved in developing governance and institutional structures for PNG’s proposed Sovereign Wealth Fund, and has served as ex-officio board member on a number of PNG government agencies and authorities.

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