Relationship between Pacific countries and development partners must be watertight: Vanuatu Finance Minister


By Pita Ligaiula in Port Vila

The geo-strategic competition intensifying in the Pacific region requires a reset in relationships that does not jeopardise diplomatic and political relations with friends and development partners, says Vanuatu’s Economic Minister Johnny Kuanapo.

Responding to a question from PACNEWS during a public lecture on “Reseting Blue Continent Economy”, Kuanapo said resetting relationships is critically important in all spheres in terms of geo- politics.

“The relationship between Vanuatu development partners continue to remain strong on paper and even on delivery of policies particularly our friends in Australia and New Zealand and our partners are here. Resetting relationships is critical important in all spheres in terms of geo- politics. What we are seeing in the Pacific that the interest of these states are not a secret. So there’s quite a contest in the Pacific about finding their own space.

“We have to rethink; we have to reset. We have to reset the relationship and as we reset this relationship, we are mindful also that it does not jeopardise the relationship diplomatically, politically with our friends,” he said.

Kuanapo stressed that relationships between Pacific Island countries and development partners must be watertight.

“In terms of the context of our relationships with our development partners its critically important to now start thinking differently because everybody wants a space. That’s why the relationship between ourselves must be watertight, the relationship between ourselves and our development partners must be watertight. If there is a vacuum, the other things will infiltrate that may destabilise the way we do things, destablise the normal structures we’ve seen in the past.

“Geopolitics has changed the economy, so we need to reset the economics and the mindset, the diplomatic relationship, the political structures and other government structures to fit the demand of time,” Kuanapo said.

Speaking at the public lecture, Fijian Trade Minister Faiyaz Koya said the biggest threat to the Pacific is climate change and not geo- politics.

Koya also emphasised the importance of regional solidarity.

“The only way for the Pacific and the region to move forward is if we have solidarity. We have to have solidarity in the reforms that we do, we have to have solidarity in terms of rebuilding, and we have to have solidarity in terms of facing something that we have not brought upon ourselves.

“Our biggest enemy is climate change which is on our door step on a daily basis. That’s our biggest enemy and our biggest threat and the only way where we can address this is through solidarity,” said Koya.