BGA Senior Adviser Amb. Ian Kemish wrote an update to clients on the geopolitical significance of French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent tour to a host of Pacific Island countries and territories.


  • French President Emmanuel Macron embarked on a swift but much-hyped tour of the Pacific from July 24-29 to strengthen his country’s position in the region. Macron traveled to New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea (PNG) during his trip. The PNG and Vanuatu legs marked the first visit by a French president to a non-French territory in the Pacific — a nod to the country’s geostrategic importance against the backdrop of escalating competition between China and the United States in the Pacific.
  • Decision-makers in Paris feel that France has neglected the neighbors of its Pacific territories — an oversight they believe must be addressed for the European power to maintain its legitimacy in the region. Continuing calls for independence in French Polynesia and New Caledonia have raised questions over France’s regional standing. In parallel, the 2021 announcement of the AUKUS pact, which includes Australia, the United Kingdom and United States, saw Paris sidelined from the region’s latest and most exclusive security partnership.


  • France is keen to make its mark and strengthen its own position in the Pacific as the United States and its allies seek to upgrade their diplomatic and military ties with Pacific countries, open embassies across the region and sign defense cooperation agreements. A rising and powerful China, which has expanded its networks in the region and signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands last year, has underpinned the West’s impetus to increase its footprint across the Pacific.
  • Macron used his tour to announce his own Indo-Pacific strategy, which is essentially a rebrand of France’s role in the Pacific’s geostrategic matrix. As part of its strategy, France is marketing itself as an alternative partner in the competition between China and other Western countries. Macron pledged more than EUR 1 billion ($1.1 billion) for projects such as upgrading infrastructure, boosting disaster resilience, transitioning to renewable energy and protecting forests.


  • While France’s Pacific Island pledges are dwarfed by those of Australia, China and the United States, they underscore its renewed commitment to the region through targeted investments and strategic initiatives. According to the Lowy Institute, France provided $280.6 million in official development assistance to the region between 2008 and 2021. By comparison, Australia, the United States and China granted $13.2 billion, $2.7 billion and $2.3 billion, respectively.
  • Companies will want to watch whether Paris’ focus on climate change and environmental conservation will present long-term opportunities to invest in this space.

We will continue to keep you updated on developments in the Pacific as they occur. If you have any comments or questions, please contact BGA Senior Adviser Amb. Ian Kemish at

Best regards,

BGA Pacific Team