Plans For International Investment, Trade Forum In Vanuatu Underway

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Investors from French Territories invited to explore opportunities

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 15, 2014) – Initial discussions are taking place for Vanuatu to host a first ever international Investment and Trade Forum in Port Vila June 2014.

A Steering Committee has been setup to look into the logistics involved. The first meeting of the Steering Committee took place in December last year at the conference room of the Ministry of Agriculture. In the meeting the Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture Mr Howard Aru confirmed that the Vanuatu Government will support the initiative and make sure the forum takes place as planned.

"I can confirm to you now that there is political will. I will do what I can to see it happens", said DG Aru.

The objective of the Forum is to facilitate potential investment opportunities between companies from the French territories of New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna and the French Polynesia to meet face to face with existing businesses, and especially indigenous Ni-Vanuatu entrepreneurs who might be in need of cash injection to help fund their expansion plan. It is an opportunity for foreign businesses to sit down with local counterparts to discuss possibilities for joint venture arrangements.

Some awareness had already taken place both in New Caledonia and Vanuatu with some potential participants in the two countries showing interest.

The Investment and Trade Forum targets especially the productive sector (agriculture, livestock, fisheries, aquaculture, forestry and manufacturing), but other sectors will also be considered.

The project was initiated in 2012, by Mr Gaston Wadrawane, who was seconded to the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA) by ADECAL (Agence de Developpement Economique de la Nouvelle Caledonie) of New Caledonia in collaboration with Mr François Japiot, Adviser. Mr Wardrawane spent a year with the VIPA.

The plan to host the forum in 2012 fell through due to unavailability of funds and Government support.

The second meeting of the Steering Committee took place on February 3. DG Aru again stressed that there is political will to support the planned activity but he emphasized the need to have all the stakeholders, including Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Trade, VIPA and Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to carry out some important tasks they have been assigned to do to in preparations for the event.

The meeting gathered representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Department of Agriculture, VIPA and Adviser Mr François Japiot. The Ministry of Trade is yet to appoint a representative to the Steering Committee, as their presence and contribution in organizing the event vitally is important.

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