INDIA will consider providing Papua New Guinea with a US$100 million loan to fund resources infrastructure projects, the leaders of the two nations confirmed in August.

In a statement, the government of India’s ministry of external affairs said India would support PNG in developing infrastructure such as roads, highways and airports.

“PNG expressed its desire to obtain US$100 million as loan from Exim Bank of India for this purpose, which will be considered favourably,” the statement said.

“Both sides also agreed to enhance cooperation in defence, capacity building, public administration, health, education and the oil and gas sectors.”

PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill said outcomes from the meeting with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi would lead to positive developments for both nations.

“The prime minister of India was very cordial and supported the fact that India is going to continue to increase is engagement with the Pacific, and especially with Papua New Guinea, because of our large economy, large population and the potential that Papua New Guinea has to offer,” he said.

India was a large potential market for PNG’s resources, agriculture and tourism sectors, he said, with the potential for oil and gas trade, as well as copper and gold, believed to be very high.

“These are resources that are fuelling the growth of the Indian economy and Papua New Guinea has not been exporting many of these products to India for a long time as many of our customers are from elsewhere,” Mr O’Neill said.

He added that he was keen to see co-operation between the Papua New Guinean and Indian defence forces continue, adding that the nations would increase the number of PNG officers visiting India to attend defence force training colleges would increase.

The commitments were made in August, just before the second Forum for India- Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC), held in Jaipur in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

Held in late August, the Forum aimed to forge stronger and more strategic partnerships between India and the 14 Pacific Island nations attending under a regional forum through existing bilateral relations.

Speaking at the Forum, Mr O’Neill said the challenges of improving healthcare and education as well as addressing climate change provided a solid basis for the nations to work together.

He was pleased the Indian government was prepared to share its information technology knowledge and experience with Pacific Islands nations, saying this engagement was important as India was a world leader in this field.

“Through improved connectivity and coordination, services such as tele-education and tele-medicine can reach remote communities,” Mr O’Neill said.

“On climate change, between Asia and the Pacific we must have a collective voice.”

Mr O’Neill also praised the advances India had made in developing its tourism industry, noting that both were developing countries with logistical challenges.

“India has achieved great success in the way it has developed a tourism sector that works with millions of small and medium enterprises (SMEs),” he said.

“As our tourism sector grows in Papua New Guinea, SMEs are essential to our success… We must develop the right ways for SMEs to engage in our tourism operations.”