The European Union has identified three focal areas for its partnership with the private sector in the Pacific for the next six years.
Among these are the regional economic integration, sustainable management of natural resources and the environment and providing an investment facility to provide an enabling environment for investment mostly in the infrastructure development through grants from the EU.
Addressing the 2nd Pacific/EU Business Forum in Port Vila, EU Regional Delegation’s head of co-operation, Renato Mele said 78 million Euros is available for the Pacific for regional economic integration.
“This is to help Pacific Island Countries in increasing their trade with Europe. For economic integration the focus is on private sector development, said Mele.
On the sustainable development of natural resources and the environment, an allocation of 66 million Euros has been set aside for the Pacific region.
“The focus here is on the improving the economic returns on the region’s natural resources and the environment, especially returns on fisheries and the emerging focus on deep sea mining.
“We can only do so much and much depends on the political will of Pacific Island Countries, Mele told representatives of the private sector attending the three day Business Forum in Port Vila this week.
Acknowledging the support of the European Union, Vanuatu’s deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Climate Change, James Bule emphasised the need for governments in the Pacific to strengthen and develop the private sector.
He said the private sector in the Pacific remains the main provider of employment for Pacific Islanders.
“We know that the private sector provides 90 percent of jobs for our island economies. They should be considered as essential partners in development on our fight against poverty and sustainable development, said Minister Bule.
Vanuatu has been acknowledged for playing a key role in Brussels in organizing the 2nd Pacific/EU Business Forum. The Forum will convene a series of dialogues which includes sessions on increasing Pacific participation in trade and addressing trade barriers, inclusive and sustainable development on engaging the private sector in the post-2015 development agenda and accessing private sector funding from the Pacific Investment Facility.
By Makereta Komai