News 6 Jul 2018
Having been appointed New Zealand's High Commissioner to Vanuatu a year ago, Jonathan Schwass says relations between the two nations are as strong as ever.
“The biggest link between our two countries economically and socially is the RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) Scheme, which brings 4000 Ni Vanuatu to New Zealand, making them the biggest contributor from a single country to the programme,” says Jonathan.
Jonathan’s past diplomatic postings included being the unit manager of the South East Asia Division at MFAT and as New Zealand ambassador to Timor Leste.
“RSE has been an enormous success over the past decade, generating $USD14 million, which provides a significant boost to the Vanuatu peoples’ livelihoods.”
He leads the delivery of New Zealand's Official Development Programme in Vanuatu, helping to oversee significant investment over three years with a focus on tourism, agriculture, renewable energy and education, boosted further by the Pacific Reset investment announcement in May.
In his presentation at the PCF Head of Missions (HOMS) Breakfast on May 25 at the Hilton Hotel in Auckland, Jonathan says Vanuatu is enjoying a period of political stability and is making inroads to fix up problems relating to its financial services sector.
Economic growth is projected to be around 3-3.2%, largely due to public sector infrastructure investment from the likes of the World Bank, Asian investment and national aid programme contracts. Jonathan says Vanuatu is now ranked within the top half of nations rated on the ease of doing business.
Where he’d particularly like to see growth is in overseas tourism.
“It’s a beautiful place and with construction work growing it’s developing into a fairly functional and dynamic little country,” says Jonathan.
“It wants to do business to boost the people of Vanuatu by growing its economy.”