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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (The Independent, May 11) – After the recession of 2001 to 2002, Vanuatu’s economy is growing faster than it has since the mid-1990s, according to statistics released by the government.

Agriculture and tourism are among the reasons cited for a 3.5 percent increase in Vanuatu’s gross domestic product in 2004, up from 2.4 percent on 2003.

Increased competition in the airlines industry also boosted the number of tourists by 20 percent last year, with more than 60,000 arriving for the first time – half of them from Australia.

Following the opening of the VCMB monopoly in the copra market to competitive buyers in 2003, last year's copra output reached over 40,000 tons, with a major shift toward coconut oil processing – with oil exports generating VUV1 billion (US$9.3 million) to the economy.

It has been reported that despite an increase in overall wealth, Vanuatu's underperforming industrial sector continued its long-term decline.

May 12, 2005

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