A Technical Trade meeting between Vanuatu and New Caledonia took place at the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Headquarters yesterday.

The meeting saw government officials, representatives of the New Caledonian government and private sectors coming together to discuss the way forward towards a trade agreement for Vanuatu and New Caledonian products. The meeting also saw participants discussing the draft agreement for the two countries to be implemented and finalized sooner towards the developed agreement.

Director General for Trades and Ni-Vanuatu Businesses, Roy Mickey Joy said that the technical meeting is basically to conclude Vanuatu and New Caledonia’s discussions which will lead to the new establishment of a new trade and economic cooperation agreement both countries.

Director Joy said that in yesterday’s discussion saw for the first time ever, a big move from New Caledonia to accept some of Vanuatu products which it did not accept before, for example root crops like yam, banana, cassava and taro.

“These are some of the products, Prime Minister Charlot Salwai has expressed in very clear terms that we should have them in the list and that New Caledonia must accept, so that in the future, Ni-Vanuatu farmers and exporters can start to export these food items or crops to the market of New Caledonia,” said DG Joy.

“With this agreement, it could create an opportunity for farmers to be able to grow more of their root crops and supply the market in New Caledonia. I think there is a lot of advantage here, for instance like kava, we did 20 years ago. New Caledonia is our biggest market now in terms of Vanuatu kava to Noumea, so equally we will push, that for the first time, Vanuatu will be able to export the root crops, like yam, taro and cassava into the market of New Caledonia.”

At the end of the meeting, New Caledonian representatives acknowledged the Vanuatu Government for hosting the meeting.

DG Joy also acknowledged the New Caledonian government representatives for attending and sharing their visions with Vanuatu and vice versa. He had also acknowledge the fact that there are great challenges between both countries in handling these issues politically and said that Vanuatu will commit in addressing these barriers to establish an effective bilateral relationship and trades.

Mr Joy also confirmed that on the 11th of February, the Prime Minister, accompanied by the Minister of Agriculture, eight representatives from the private sector and government officials will go to Noumea to attend the Economic Summit which will be held on the 13th of February, where the Prime Minister and the President of the New Caledonia will sign the agreement.

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