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About Vanuatu

The Republic of Vanuatu is one of four independent countries in Melanesia and is home to around 270,000 people, three quarters of whom live in rural areas in a country made up of 83 islands.

New Zealand has a long-standing and warm relationship with Vanuatu, sharing some common cultural characteristics and strong economic ties.

Find out more about Vanuatu.

 

Trade

New Zealand and Vanuatu have strong economic ties, with the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme sitting at the heart of our relationship. This is creating mutual benefits for the New Zealand horticulture and viticulture sectors and, for ni-Vanuatu workers and their families.

In 2018, Vanuatu was our eighth-largest trading partner in the Pacific. Economic growth is likely to be focused on the services sector as Vanuatu continues to grow its tourism industry. The tourism sector is a key driver of growth accounting for 20% of Vanuatu’s economy and 26% of its formal workforce.

Vanuatu is also a signatory to the PACER Plus free trade agreement. When this agreement comes into force it will have positive effects for Vanuatu’s development and increase trade links both with New Zealand and with the Pacific region more widely.

Vanuatu’s economy had been performing strongly, but Tropical Cyclone Pam in March 2015 and the early onset of El Nino dealt a major blow to its major export earning sectors, agriculture and tourism. The cost of Tropical Cyclone Pam is estimated to have been around NZ$700 million (equivalent to 64.1% of Vanuatu’s GDP). Recovery is ongoing and will take several years.

Vanuatu’s economy currently has a positive medium-term outlook. Tourism, the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) remittances, public sector expenditure and donor driven infrastructure investments will be what underpins economic growth into 2019.

2018 statistics

Two-way trade

NZD$134 million*

 

Goods exports to Vanuatu

NZD$46 million*

Top exports: electrical machinery, wood and medicines 

Goods imports from Vanuatu

NZD$1 million*

Top imports: services, meat and fruit products

GDP

USD$942 million^

 

GDP per capita

USD$3,230^

 NZ GDP per capita is USD$41,267^

Sources: *MBIE Trade Intelligence May 2019 (external link)   ^IMF WEO April 2019 (external link)

Development cooperation

 

Vanuatu faces development challenges owing to its geographic spread, fast-growing youth population and its status as the most disaster-prone country in the world.

New Zealand is the second-largest contributor of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Vanuatu, after Australia. New Zealand has worked extensively to help Vanuatu’s tourism and agriculture sector recover after Cyclone Pam, and more recently has provided humanitarian assistance after the volcanic eruption on the island of Ambae

Find out more about our current priorities, achievements and activities in Vanuatu.

Embassies

Recent official visits

New Zealand to Vanuatu

  • June 2019: New Zealand Pacific Mission to Vanuatu
  • October 2018: New Zealand Speaker of the House visit to Vanuatu
  • August 2018: New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters’ visit to Vanuatu

Vanuatu to New Zealand

  • May 2019: Vanuatu Prime Minister Salwai’s visit to New Zealand
  • February 2018: Vanuatu Parliamentary Secretary Koanapo to New Zealand
  • February 2018: Vanuatu Minister of Internal Affairs to New Zealand
  • January 2018: Vanuatu Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade to New Zealand

 

News & Events

Vanuatu: Tropical Cyclone Donna

Vanuatu

Tropical Cyclone Donna is expected to intensify and make landfall in Vanuatu over the coming days as a Category 3 cyclone.