1.       Hon. Prime Minister, Senator Anne Ruston, Government Ministers of the Vanuatu Government, Members of Parliament, Senior Officials, members of the media, let me again take this opportunity to welcome you all to the Prime Minister's office.

2.       Further to convey that the Hon. Scott Morrison and I had very fruitful discussions this afternoon, whence I also expressed my delight at meeting him again, so soon after our very cordial meeting on the margins of the APEC recently in port Moresby. I also recalled my very successful Guest of Government visit to Canberra, in June 2018.

3.       Hon.Scott Morrison's visit to Vanuatu at this time, not only comes at a critical juncture in Australia-Vanuatu relations, but also marks a historical milestone, for the Vanuatu Government to receives such a high-level visit.

4.       Australia-Vanuatu relations have never been better, and will continue to grow stronger, on the basis of principles of mutual respect and equal partnership.

5.       During our discussions, I had also conveyed my desire for this visit to continue to build on recent developments in Vanuatu-Australia relations, and to strengthen our strategic partnership and mutual development cooperation.

6.       Specifically, Australia's assistance over the years in the areas of economic governance, infrastructure development, education, health and law and justice has continued to mean the difference for the average ni-Vanuatu.

7.       With regards to trade and economic relations, the Vanuatu Government continues to place special emphasis on increased trade with Australia, particularly via incremental increases to its export base and other initiatives.

8.       The Productive Sector 2019 is one initiative which is aimed at increasing production and promoting value addition, especially of primary products with comparative and competitive advantage both in the domestic and export markets. This is also in line with general effort to adequately prepare Vanuatu's smooth transition and graduation from LDC status after 2020.

9.       The Vanuatu Government also continues to value its participation in labour mobility initiatives such as the Seasonal Workers Programme, and the Labour Scheme, wich not only provide important conduits for socio-economic development in Vanuatu, but also hopefully address labour shortages in the Australia market.

10.   I also conveyed the appreciation of the Vanuatu Government and people for Australia's assistance in infrastructure development, which remain one of the biggest priorities and challenges for the Vanuatu  government, particularly in the development of climate-resilient and quality infrastructure.

11.   The Australia Government also continues to remain an important partner in Police Cooperation and Security, both at the national and regional level. This is also true for Australia contribution to disaster support and assistance in times of great devastation and disaster, something which Vanuatu  is all too familiar with.

12.   We also discussed opportunities to enhance cooperation in the social sectors of health, education and for increased cooperation in sports.

13.   Finally, i would like to commend and thank the Australian Prime Minister for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit Vanuatu, and for the ongoing  commitment by the Australian Government and people to Vanuatu's development priorities and aspirations.

 

Thank you!

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