Prime Minister Hon. James Marape emphasised the vital role of the recently signed Ship Rider Agreement between the United States of America and Papua New Guinea in fortifying the security of PNG’s maritime borders, addressing the country’s limited capacity and resources in this regard.

During his address in Parliament yesterday (Wednesday, June 14, 2023) while presenting the Ship Rider Agreement for ratification, Prime Minister Marape underlined the importance of this agreement. Following a productive debate, which received substantial support from most Members of Parliament, the session was adjourned to allow for further deliberations.

The Ship Rider Agreement, signed in Port Moresby last month by US Secretary of State H.E. Antony Blinken and Defence Minister Hon. Win Daki, alongside the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) after extensive negotiations spanning seven years, does not necessitate amendments to the National Constitution or existing legislation for PNG’s participation.

“Our nation faces the challenge of effectively patrolling our land and maritime borders,” expressed PM Marape in Parliament. 

“We are confronted with issues such as illegal and unreported fishing, transnational trade of illicit substances including drug trafficking, and various other border-related concerns.”

PM Marape outlined the key benefits of the Ship Rider Agreement, stating that it will:

• Enhance PNG’s security relationship with the US, particularly in the context of maritime border policing.

• Greatly strengthen the monitoring capabilities of the Naval Element of the PNG Defence Force in combating illegal fishing and other illicit activities within PNG’s maritime borders.

• Facilitate bilateral and multilateral exercises and engagements to support regional capacity-building priorities. Furthermore, it enables the US to provide prompt assistance in emergency situations, such as humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts.

• Bolster PNG’s inherent enforcement capabilities, enhance overall awareness of the maritime domain, and safeguard national sovereignty.

• Establish an expedited mechanism for obtaining flag State consent to board and search vehicles reasonably suspected of engaging in illicit trafficking. Additionally, it promotes robust cooperation and information sharing between the US and PNG. The signing of this agreement reflects the commitment of both nations to collaborate in promoting sound maritime governance within the region.