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Pacific Islands Trade & Invest hosts first Vanuatu Trade Commissioner

South Pacific Tourism Organisation

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Pacific Islands Trade & Invest (PT&I) in Sydney along with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat have jointly announced the hosting of the first ever Ni-Vanuatu Trade Commissioner of Vanuatu to Australia in the Sydney office for the next 12 months.

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) under the Governance for Growth (GfG) program is providing financial support by funding the secondment of Donald Pelam under an agreement with the Ministry of Tourism Trade Commerce and Ni-Vanuatu Business (MTTCNVB).

The purpose of this secondment is to promote Vanuatu’s exports of goods and services in Australia and Australian foreign investments in Vanuatu by providing government departments and agencies a representative in Australia based in Sydney.

This project is well-grounded in the Government of Vanuatu’s long term strategies. The Ministry of Tourism, Trade, Industry, Commerce and Ni-Vanuatu Business (MTTCNVB) through the Department of Industry has a policy of delivering market access services to our private sectors stakeholders. This policy function is directed by the National Trade Policy Framework and the National Industrial Policy.

In the Trade Policy Framework, Vanuatu government has committed itself to facilitate foreign trade through creating international market accesses through a number of bilateral, regional, unilateral and multilateral trade arrangements. To gain the most benefit from these arrangements requires proactive marketing and promotion of Vanuatu products and services. The Vanuatu Trade Policy Framework therefore recommends representation by government officials in Vanuatu’s key markets.

In the National Industrial Policy the Department of Industry is tasked to undertake “foreign trade facilitation”. To deliver this essential service, placement of qualified marketing and promotion experts is required.

The PT&I office in Sydney, with its focus on international promotion and support to exporters in Pacific Island countries, is an ideal placement for promoting Vanuatu’s commercial interests. Vanuatu Ministry of Trade has worked in close partnership with the PT&I programmes and are well aware of PT&I’s expertise in the area.

During his secondment the Vanuatu Trade Commissioner will work closely with the PT&I Team to capitalise on different market strategies to involve Vanuatu goods and services.

“If Vanuatu can established some potential distributors for its few products, establishing few investors to invest in Vanuatu and getting new seasonal workers programme employers to get our people to come and work in their farms and create increased remittances to Vanuatu, then I’ll be a happy man. It’s about making a little difference for Vanuatu, elevating the profile of the country. Vanuatu needs to be seen here in Australia, especially in terms of doing business with key commercial players in Australia as Vanuatu always sees Australia as a good long-time friend,” Mr Pelam says.

Australia is the natural choice of country to further Vanuatu’s commercial interests; Australia is the market for 22% of Vanuatu’s merchandise exports, and for the services sector it is even more dominant: 60% of tourism arrivals by air and 90% of arrivals by sea come from Australia. For foreign investments, about 30% of the total stock comes from Australian investors.

Within Australia, Sydney is the key economic centre, and it was therefore selected by the Vanuatu Government as the city for representation. Sydney contributes to about 22% of Australia’s GDP, and of the top 500 Australian corporations, 40% have their headquarters in the city. So although Vanuatu’s Embassy is located in Canberra, it was thought that a government representative working in Sydney would contribute more to Vanuatu in terms of investment and export promotion.

Shiu Raj, Director of Economic Governance at Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat said, “The PT&I Network is pleased to host Mr Pelam as part of its effort to assist Vanuatu to have direct interaction with the Australian market for investment and exports. Mr Pelam will also work with the PT&I marketing experts in China, Europe, Japan and New Zealand to advance Vanuatu’s trade, tourism and investment interests.”

Read story: South Pacific Tourism Organisation

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