Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Cooperatives, Joe Natuman will become the first Minister of Cooperatives in the last 36 years to address the International Conference of Ministers of Cooperatives of International Cooperative Alliance in Vietnam this week.

The delegation left for Vietnam last Saturday. The Minister is accompanied by his First Political Advisor, George Iapson and Director of Cooperatives, Ridley Joseph.

Speaking on the eve of their departure, the Director said the Conference is attended by Ministers of Cooperatives in the Asia Pacific Region where cooperative is active.

In the Pacific Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea are the only members of ICA while the latter is a new comer. “This is the first time for a Minister of Cooperatives from Vanuatu to be able to address the International Conference on Vanuatu’s point of view on cooperative and how it has been benefiting the country, what its future plans are, and how to align its policies and activities with member countries where cooperative is active”, the Director said.

“We are fortunate that in this meeting, not only the Minister of Cooperatives is attending but he is also the Deputy Prime Minister so our representation is a little bit higher and with that honour, the organisers have allowed him to address the Conference”, he said.

After the Conference, the delegation is expected to visit prominent cooperative federations in the Asian country. “Vietnam is a country which has neatly organised itself into industrial and economic zones”, he said.

Vanuatu’s delegation will have the opportunity to learn from Vietnam’s experience in order to return home and deliberate on Vanuatu’s own policies on Economic, Industrial and Free Trade Zones.

The Director said at the moment everything is all over the place.

“All of a sudden you drive to a factory and pollution and then you drive to a nice hotel so everything is mixed up,” he said.

“We want to be able to put things into perspective to be able to control the environment impacts, to be able to facilitate development in specific zones.”

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