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Asian Development Bank to increase presence in country

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, May 9, 2011) - The Vanuatu Government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a memorandum of Agreement, formalizing ADB’s Joint Vanuatu Liaison Office it shares with the World Bank Group.

The office opened in late 2010, further strengthening the banks’ relationship with Vanuatu’s Government and people.

"We value the good relationship we have shared with ADB for 30 years," said Joe Natuman, Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade.

"We appreciate ADB’s increased presence in Vanuatu, working with Government to help us achieve our development goals."

ADB provides outgoing assistance for improving access to finance opportunities in Vanuatu and is involved in state-owned enterprise reform alongside AusAID. ADB is preparing for an inter-island shipping project in cooperation with the New Zealand Aid Programme and an urban development project with AusAID.

While Vanuatu is one of the fastest growing economies in the Pacific in recent times, it still faces enormous challenges such as vulnerability to natural disasters and influences of the global economy. Economic growth has been largely confined to urban areas and it has generated few jobs outside of urban centers. Vanuatu is struggling to meet its Millennium Development Goals, particularly reductions in maternal mortality rates and access to sanitation.

"The expansion of ADB activities in Vanuatu especially in the areas of infrastructure investment, private sector development, and renewable energy calls for strengthened engagement with the Government, and we are delighted to have this new joint ADB/ World Bank Liaison Office will help facilitate this engagement," said Eugenue Zhukov, Regional Director of ADB’s office in Sydney, Australia.

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