SinoVan sign

Signing Agreement between Vanuatu (MALFFB Minister at left) and Chinese company, witnessed by Acting DG Benjamin Shing and Chinese officials

By Len Garae

“It's been two years since i was tasked to get this SinoVan (Tuna Processing Plant) Project (at Blacksands) moving and we finally get CNFC to sign in their share capital agreement this week”.

Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB), Matai Seremaiah made the confirmation on May 12.

He confirms “tough negotiations and nail biting” to ensure both parties are satisfied to finally agree to MALFFB’s terms, to contribute $US9.01 million which is almost equivalent to 1 billion vatu, and will be transferred to Vanuatu before the end of May 2018.

The Minister’s confirmation complete with a picture of the signing ceremony, confirms his own urgent call on World Tuna Day on May 2, to the private sector to come in to get the Tuna Processing Plant up and running after 14 years since it was built.

On his second to the last visit to Port Vila from Honiara, the EU Ambassador who is accredited to Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, Leonidas Tezapsidis said Vanuatu would need to catch enough tuna to keep the factory in operation.

Also sanitary requirements were a must in order to allow the country to export its processed fish and fish products to the European Union.

For proof he said recently health officials from EU visited the Solomons solely to inspect the country’s tuna processing factory on health grounds to make sure it operated according to EU health standard.

The Ambassador made the remarks over lunch with journalists at Chantilly’s Hotel last Sunday, for serious investors to partner with the Government to operate the Fish Processing Plant.

Ambassador Tezapsidis said he was referring to serious investors with financial capacity that had a long term interest in the country to agree to a public private partnership (PPP) arrangement to operate the Plant, a condition which the Minister had himself stressed.

The Minister wants to see all tuna caught offloaded and processed in the country, to provide employment opportunities and start to reap financial benefits from its own marine resource.

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