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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Bilateral PNG, Vanuatu Investment Prospects Considered
Neighboring nations finalizing air space agreements

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 10, 2012) – Papua New Guinea has the potential to extend its growing economy into the countries of the region, including Solomon Islands and the Republic of Vanuatu.

PNG Envoy to Solomon Islands and the Republic of Vanuatu, His Excellency Brian Yombon-Copio, said this when referring to recent media claims that PNG should also invest and assist the Republic of Vanuatu with investments and other development programs.

The High Commissioner who has instigated recent increase in PNG investments in the Solomon Islands, with 52 companies operating, said PNG’s investment portfolio has increased to more than SB$2 billion [US$270.2 million] and provides more than 5,000 employment opportunities to Solomon Islanders.

Mr. Yombon-Copio said he had discussions with Government officials from the Republic of Vanuatu for PNG investors to look into opportunities in Vanuatu.

He said he has realized the opportunity for investment in the country and has successfully negotiated with Air Nuigini to do a new sector: Port Moresby – Honiara – Port Vila and return.

"This sector will provide the opportunity for potential investors from PNG to have direct access to the Vanuatu market," said Mr. Yombon-Copio.

He said PNG’s investments in Solomon Islands and Fiji are significant as the two countries benefit from direct flights from Port Moresby which give them easy access to the countries for investments.

The PNG Envoy said not long Vanuatu will enjoy similar economic benefits after the direct flight is introduced, hopefully by early next year.

He said Air Niugini has incorporated the new sector as part of its Pacific plan and will pay off benefits.

The High Commissioner said officials from PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are in the process of finalizing existing air space agreements to facilitate the new sector.

Mr. Yombon-Copio said currently, PNG has only one company in Port Vila, Credit Corporation, which has demonstrated potential in providing financial capital in Vanuatu.

He said there is potential for markets for various products and services and these would be in the finance, agro business, tourism and hospitality, general merchandising, human resource development etc.

Mr. Yombon-Copio said on the whole, the bilateral relationship between PNG and Vanuatu exists with strong expanded ties for long term benefits.

He indicated that there are opportunities available where PNG is in a prepared position to provide technical assistance to Vanuatu.

This could be realized through direct bilateral development cooperation reached between the two countries or through some of the MSG programs.

Mr. Yombon-Copio added that technical development assistance programs should be delivered through the PNG National Volunteer Services.

This organization should play a key role in the delivery of development assistance by recruiting qualified technical people like teachers, doctors, nurses, etc, on volunteer arrangements to go and serve the various smaller island states.

Mr. Yombon-Copio who is advocating for the development of a regional policy, given PNG’s current increased role and shift in higher heights, said the PNG Government should support the National Volunteer Services to play a proactive role and be able to drive the Government’s national agenda within the region.

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