Vanuatu will graduate from the United Nations Least Developed Country status this year, despite earlier indications the move would be postponed due to current economic challenges.
Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Bob Loughman, announced that Vanuatu will graduate to developing country status as part of the Vanuatu’s 40-years of Independence celebrations. The Prime Minister said the graduation will be held on 4 December, 2020.
“The graduation will show to the world the potential Vanuatu has to be able to move further in the work we are doing,” Prime Minister Loughman said.
“This way we can achieve Vanuatu’s development goals and visions for 2030 which are laid out in The People’s Plan [National Sustainable Development Plan 2016 to 2030].”
Prime Minister Loughman compared Vanuatu’s graduation in this 40th Anniversary of Independence year to the time when the tribes of Israel travelled through the desert for 40 years.
He says the graduation will be a positive sign that Vanuatu is progressing as an independent nation.
The Prime Minister also outlined his vision for the development of Vanuatu’s marine waters as part of the Government’s new focus on agricultural production. He also announced that a new Ministry of Fisheries, Ocean and Maritime will be created.
“When we talk about agriculture, we talk about the land,” the Prime Minister said.
“When you compare the area of ocean waters that we have within Vanuatu’s exclusive economic zone, you will find that we have a lot of ocean waters in our territory, so the Government needs to look at the best ways to make use of the sea.”
“We want to design an industry for the shipping sector to promote the transportation of goods and the people from an island to another.”
Vanuatu has been on the list of United Nations designated Least Developed Countries since 1985. The list includes 47 countries the UN believes are economically and environmentally vulnerable and need special assistance to aid their development.
Vanuatu has been scheduled to graduate to developing country status in 2015 but this was pushed back to 2020 due to Cyclone Pam’s impact on the country.
In June, the Director General of Vanuatu’s Ministry of Trade said the impact Cyclones Pam and Harold would delay the graduation.
Vanuatu’s graduation will present opportunities and challenges as it means the country will no longer receive benefits such as special access to development finance and some trading markets.