What Are The Biggest Industries In Papua New Guinea?

Heavy equipment in Papua New Guinea. Editorial credit: Angela N Perryman / Shutterstock.com.
Heavy equipment in Papua New Guinea. Editorial credit: Angela N Perryman / Shutterstock.com.

Papua New Guinea covers an area of 178,700 square miles in the Oceania region and had approximately 8,084,999 people in 2016. Data from the International Monetary Fund indicates that Papua New Guinea's GDP was estimated to be $21.09 billion in 2017. Due to several factors such as the size of the economy, the International Monetary Fund classifies Papua New Guinea as a developing nation. In 2011 the Papua New Guinean economy was considered the sixth fastest growing economy in the world, mainly due to the rapid growth of the mining sector. Other major industries in Papua New Guinea include agriculture, forestry, and fishing. The UNDP considers Papua New Guinea to be one of the poorest nations in the world since roughly 37% of the population lives below the poverty line.


Agriculture in Papua New Guinea is one of the most ancient industries since it has a history dating back more than 7000 years. Foreigners introduced several of the most important crops in the nation such as sweet potatoes and cassava from the American continent. Agriculture is one of the most important industries in the Papua New Guinean economy since it contributed more than 25% of the nation's Gross Domestic Product. Besides, the agriculture employs a significant section of the Papuan workforce. The most important subsistence crop in Papua New Guinea is sweet potatoes which are mainly grown in the highland regions. Other major subsistence crops include bananas and taro. Cash crops are some of the most important plants grown in Papua New Guinea with the most important being coffee and tea, while oil and rubber play a significant role as well. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Papua New Guinean coffee accounted for roughly 1% of the total amount of coffee grown globally. The coffee industry is a significant employer as it provides jobs to approximately 2.5 million Papuans. Some of the major coffee growing areas in Papua New Guinea include Simbu and the Western Highland Province. In Papua New Guinea, coffee is mostly grown by small-scale farmers who also grow subsistence crops alongside the coffee. Papuan coffee is often considered extremely high quality; however, the quality of the coffee is affected by several factors such as diseases and the old age of the trees.


Mining is one of the most critical industries in the Papuan economy since it contributes significantly to the gross domestic product. According to the government, the mineral sector contributed nearly 26.3% to the nation's GDP in 1999. In Papua New Guinea, mining gained prominence during the 1970's. Some of the significant minerals extracted in the country include gold, silver, and copper. Some of the major mines in the state include the Ok Tedi mine and the Edie Creek mine. Before the Second World War, one of the most important gold mines in Papua New Guinea was Edie Creek which was situated roughly 3.1 miles from Wau. The main mining methods used at the Edie Creek mine were alluvial mining and open cast mining. Stanley and William Royal were responsible for discovery of gold in the region in 1926. Another major gold mine in Papua New Guinea is the Hidden Valley Mine, also known as the Hamata Mine, which is situated 130 miles from Port Moresby. The Morobe Mining Joint Ventures is the primary operator of the Hamata mine. The Ok Tedi mine situated in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province is also one of the most important mines in the country. At the Ok Tedi mine, both gold and copper are extracted by opencast mining. The Ok Tedi mine has caused significant environmental harm mainly due to the vast quantities of contaminants which are discharged into the river systems. According to a report from BHP Billiton, the Ok Tedi mine released nearly 80 million tons of contaminated substances into rivers in the region. The contamination has significantly affected 50,000 people in over 100 villages in the area. The government has put in place some strategies to improve the mining sector and reduce its environmental impact.


Trade is one of the vital industries in Papua New Guinea, and some of its major trading partners include Australia, Singapore, China, and Japan. Data indicates that Australia purchases nearly 40% of Papua New Guinea's exports while the European Union buys almost 20% of the exports. Some of the main products exported by Papua New Guinea included mining products which accounted for more than 40% of the total exports and agricultural products which accounted for approximately 24% of the total products exported. Papua New Guinea also imported vast amounts of products from nations such as Singapore, Australia, Japan, and China. Most of the items that Papua New Guinea imports include machinery and petroleum. Australian products accounted for nearly 35% of the items that Papua New Guinea imported while items from Singapore accounted for roughly 15% of the total imports.


Tourism is one of the emerging industries in Papua New Guinea. In 2015, the nation received approximately 184,000 visitors which was an increase from the number of tourists who visited the nation in 2014. The Papua New Guinean tourism industry traces its roots to Burns Philp & Company Limited, a company established by James Burns and Robert Philip to offer tourists trips into the country. Some of the main tourist attractions in Papua New Guinea include the nation's unique culture: surfing, fishing, and diving in the Pacific Ocean, and hiking with the most popular trails being the Kokoda Track. One of the significant factors hindering the growth of the nation's tourism sector is rampant insecurity and a poor record on human rights issues. Tourists in Papua New Guinea are often advised to hire private security companies.

Economic Growth In Papua New Guinea

According to the IMF, Papua New Guinea is projected to have a GDP of $32 billion in 2018 which will be a significant increase from the 2017 GDP. The economy of Papua New Guinea has faced some significant challenges such as the volatility of agricultural and mineral prices in the international markets. The government of Papua New Guinea has put in place several measures to ensure the growth of the country's economy.


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