EIF ED Address at Launch of the Vanuatu Tourism Infrastructure Project (VTIP)
Port Vila, Vanuatu
Friday, 28 August 2015
Honourable Acting Prime Minister, Honourable Ministers, Honourable members of parliament, Lord Mayor, Excellency High Commissioner of New Zealand, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
Hemi one bigfala hona blong givim address ia iko long yufala today!
Tourism is immensely important. It is one sector of the economy that touches almost every aspect of human life. Globally, the sector represents nearly 10% of the world’s GDP and 30% of global services exports. It is also a major source of foreign exchange and investment, leading to widespread employment and business opportunities, with this particularly being the case for Vanuatu.
Recent research conducted by the EIF with the United Nations World Tourism Organization has shown that for the least developed countries' (LDCs) tourism is a critical tool for growth and development, with more than 80% of LDCs identifying tourism as a priority sector for their development.
Despite the clear importance of tourism to developing countries less than 0.01% of Global Development Assistance is dedicated to developing tourism in LDCs. It is clear that this is not optimal, and is a key rationale for our ongoing work together with the UN World Tourism Organization.
I am pleased to say, however, that a lack of resources being dedicated to tourism development is no longer the case in Vanuatu. In this project here today, together with the additional support from the Government of New Zealand, we have an extremely strong and well-resourced tourism development initiative.
Not only is this a highly important project, it also clearly demonstrates the key principles of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF). For those of you who may not be familiar with the EIF, let me provide some brief information about the initiative. The EIF is a partnership of 51, mostly least-developed countries, 23 Donors (such as Australia, the EU and Japan) and 8 international agencies, including the World Bank, several UN organizations, and the World Trade Organization where our Secretariat is based. The EIF seeks to link trade development needs of LDCs with resources from Development Partners.
We create country based systems and capacity to maximise the potential of trade for development both through the framework of the initiative and through the EIF Trust Fund. Since early 2013 we have been supporting the national implementation arrangements for the mainstreaming of trade in Vanuatu, for which we are contributing a total of USD 1.5 million for the duration of the project. The new project being launched today includes a further USD 3.15 million contribution from the EIF Trust Fund.
The EIF is a catalytic framework seeking not only to support trade based development through our own resources, but more importantly to assist beneficiary countries to effectively access additional resources. The VTIP is a clear case of EIF resources being used in this manner, to support a much larger programme.
I am also pleased to see that the project has a high degree of national ownership and forms a central part of the Trade Policy Framework. It is also well linked to the very effective National Trade Development Committee and the Trade Development Division with a mandate to leverage and facilitate resources to implement the Trade Policy Framework. This is not only important for the successful implementation of the project, but also for ensuring its sustainability and creating linkages to other tourism and related sector support initiatives.
While I pay tribute to the resilience of Ni-Vanuatu in the aftermath of the Cyclone Pam that struck the country earlier this year, the imperatives of the reconstruction that lies ahead will pose daunting challenges. Therefore, in my view, this project that helps the country to rebuild its vital tourism infrastructure is both timely and relevant. We should remain equally cognisant of the fact that the role of trade in general and tourism trade in particular cannot be under-estimated as the economic rehabilitation drive gains momentum.
It is our conviction and belief that the project launched today will help create new employment and income opportunities for Ni-Vanuatu, establishing links to the rural economy, alleviating poverty and ensuring economic empowerment of women, which will eventually contribute to sustainable development.
I would like to thank the Government of Vanuatu, particularly the leadership of the Honourable Acting Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and his team at the Ministry for your commitment to the principles of the EIF in maximising the development impacts of trade. I am grateful to you for your kind hospitality throughout my visit to your beautiful and one of the happiest countries in the world.
Importantly, I would also like to thank you, High Commissioner and the broader the Government of New Zealand as a co-funder of this project for the extensive investment placed in realising where we are today and the generous contribution you have made to this project. The EIF is very pleased to be a part of the Vanuatu Tourism Infrastructure Project and I look forward to seeing the impacts of this project over the coming years.