An Oceanian country situated immediately north of Australia, the Independent State of Papua New Guinea shipped an estimated US$11.7 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 19.4% gain since 2015 and a 3.9% increase from 2018 to 2019.
The latest available data back in 2012 shows that 89.7% of products exported from Papua New Guinea were bought by importers in: Australia (35.9% of the global total), Japan (11.7%), Germany (7%), China (6.7%), Singapore (5.6%), Netherlands (4.6%), India (4.5%), Philippines (3.4%), United Kingdom (3.3%), South Korea (2.7%), Spain (2.5%) then the United States of America (1.8%).
Given Papua New Guinea’s population of 8.6 million people, its total $11.7 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $1,400 for every resident in the island country.
Papua New Guinea’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Papua New Guinean global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Papua New Guinea.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$5.4 billion (46.6% of total exports)
- Gems, precious metals: $2.6 billion (22.5%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $1 billion (8.7%)
- Wood: $754.6 million (6.5%)
- Nickel: $535.4 million (4.6%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $490.1 million (4.2%)
- Fish: $245.8 million (2.1%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $219 million (1.9%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $184.4 million (1.6%)
- Cocoa: $53.9 million (0.5%)
Papua New Guinea’s top 10 exports are extremely concentrated, accounting for 99.2% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Gems and precious metals represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 16.9% from 2018 to 2019 powered by stronger international revenues for gold and silver. In second place for improving export sales was ores, slag and ash via an 8.6% gain led by copper ores and concentrates. Papua New Guinea’s shipments of mineral fuels including oil also posted an 8.6% improvement spearheaded by petroleum gases.
The leading decliner among Papua New Guinea’s top 10 export categories was cocoa thanks to a -37% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, petroleum gases represent Papua New Guinea’s most valuable exported product at 38.1% of the country’s total. In second place was unwrought gold (22.1%) trailed by rough wood (6.1%), crude oil (5.4%), nickel matter and oxide sinters (4.6%), palm oil (3.6%) processed petroleum oils (3.1%) then prepared or preserved fish and caviar (1.9%).
Overall Papua New Guinea achieved a $7.5 billion trade surplus for 2019, a 12.2% improvement from the $6.7 billion in black ink one year earlier.
The following types of Papua New Guinean product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$4.8 billion (Up by 13.6% since 2018)
- Gems, precious metals: $2.6 billion (Up by 16.9%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $1 billion (Up by 8.6%)
- Wood: $750.9 million (Down by -18.5%)
- Nickel: $535.2 million (Up by 2.5%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $467.4 million (Down by -13.9%)
- Fish: $231.8 million (Down by -19.9%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $182.5 million (Down by -12.1%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $172.7 million (Up by 5.1%)
- Cocoa: $51.1 million (Down by -37.8%)
Papua New Guinea has positive net exports in the international trade of petroleum gases and, to a lesser extent, crude oil. In turn, these cashflows indicate Papua New Guinea’s strong competitive advantages under the category named mineral fuels including oil.
Below are exports from Papua New Guinea that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Papua New Guinea’s goods trail Papua New Guinean importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$825.5 million (Up by 6.2% since 2018)
- Vehicles: -$293 million (Up by 2.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$247 million (Down by -29.6%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$213.3 million (Up by 5.9%)
- Cereals: -$143.5 million (Up by 15.9%)
- Miscellaneous food preparations: -$123.5 million (Up by 9.1%)
- Meat: -$121.9 million (Up by 6.6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$116.4 million (Down by -8.7%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: -$84.6 million (Up by 5.5%)
- Iron, steel: -$75.1 million (Up by 11.5%)
Papua New Guinea has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers category.
Papua New Guinean Export Companies
Not one Papua New Guinean corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Papua New Guinea. Selected examples are shown below.
- Bank South Pacific (international bank)
- InterOil (oil, gas)
- Liquid Niugini LNG (natural gas)
- Oil Search Limited (oil, gas)
- Ok Tedi Mining Limited (copper, gold mining)
- PNG Air (airliner)
In macroeconomic terms, Papua New Guinea’s total exported goods represent 34% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($34.3 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 34% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 36.2% for 2018. Those metrics suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Papua New Guinea’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Papua New Guinea’s unemployment rate was 2.4% in 2019, same as one year earlier according to Trading Economics.
Papua New Guinea’s capital city is Port Moresby, nicknamed “Pom City”.
See also Gold Exports by Country, Silver Exports by Country and Capital Facts for Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 20, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 20, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 20, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Papua New Guinea. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Wikipedia, Papua New Guinea. Accessed on June 20, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 20, 2020