Photo by APIBC
APIBC NEWS : 28th Feb 2017

A successful 5th Australia Vanuatu Business Forum

Thanks to all involved for a very successful #5AVBF taking place for the first time in beautiful Port Vila, Vanuatu

— By APIBC

5TH AUSTRALIA VANUATU BUSINESS FORUM, PORT VILA, TUESDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2017

The 5th Australia Vanuatu Business Forum was held in Port Vila, Vanuatu, on 28 February 2017.  This was the first time the Forum was held in Vanuatu.  It was attended by 96 delegates and included 12 trade displays of products and services by Australian and Vanuatu companies. 

The Acting Prime Minister of Vanuatu, the Hon Joe Natuman MP, and the High Commissioner of Australia, HE Ms Jenny Da Rin, delivered their respective governments’ keynote addresses.  The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu, Mr Simeon Athy, made a presentation on the Vanuatu economy and a range of expert speakers including The Hon Ralph Regenvanu, Minister for Lands, Geology and Mines, Energy and Water Resources, addressed investment, tourism development, land reform and banking and finance policy issues.  The Australian government and the Asian Development Bank briefed the Forum on current and future development projects.

Australia and Vanuatu have an enduring bilateral and business relationship since early European settlement in Australia.  Australia is Vanuatu’s biggest trading partner and largest donor partner.  The bilateral development assistance program supports a wide range of development and economic sectors including infrastructure, trade, agriculture, fisheries, education and health.  The private sector is the driver of Vanuatu’s economy.  Expanded access to the Australian labour market is important for Vanuatu’s economy.  PACER Plus is reaching the conclusion of negotiations and will improve business and economic engagement between Vanuatu and Australia.

The Vanuatu economy is projected to grow by 4 to 5% in 2017 driven predominantly by building and construction, tourism and added value in the agriculture sector.  The importance was emphasised to Vanuatu’s economy of the Vanuatu Government acting speedily in continuing work to ensure compliance with International Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering requirements to avoid “black listing” and also to commence immediately the planned work at Bauerfield Airport. 

Vanuatu is improving the ease of doing business.  Key opportunities additional to tourism related industries include information and communication technologies utilising Vanuatu’s world class fibre optic undersea cable connections and value adding in the agriculture sector.

Participants heard some practical examples of successful project development in tourism and agriculture including how to navigate the required approval process and lessons for managing land issues.  They also heard the importance of investors in Vanuatu working closely with landowners and labour to instill confidence in all parties of the value the investment brings to each party, and to maximise the chance of success of their investment.

Continued growth of cruising represents an important economic opportunity for Vanuatu through the development of world class supporting infrastructure and tourism services including safe and reliable transport, high quality food and beverage and a unique Vanuatu retail experience. 

The importance of properly resourcing key tourism stakeholders Air Vanuatu and the Vanuatu Tourism Office and their partnering with local and international stakeholders to build sustainable tourism growth was emphasised. 

The Forum was wholly funded by sponsors and attendance fees by delegates.  Sponsors were the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority as the major sponsor, ANZ Banking Corporation, Australian Trade Commission, Bank of South Pacific, Bred Bank, British American Tobacco, Carnival Australia, Holding Redlich, Origin Energy, Pacific Air Express.

Participants welcomed the announcement by the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority that in 2017 it will open an investment promotion office in Australia, and in New Zealand and China.

PORT VILA.

TUESDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2017.

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