8 Jun 2006

New Zealand and Vanuatu sign new air services agreement

4:05 pm on 8 June 2006

New Zealand and Vanuatu have signed an air services agreement which will allow up to eight weekly flights by the two countries' airlines between Port Vila and Auckland.

The signing came as New Zealand's foreign minister, Winston Peters, launched a new development strategy for Vanuatu which will see aid treble to 54 million US dollars over five years.

Don Wiseman reports from Port Vila.

"Around forty percent of the money is to go towards education and mostly basic education as Vanuatu strives to reach the Millennium Challenge goal of free basic education for every child by 2015. It's hoped the air services agreement will lead to a surge in New Zealand tourist numbers to Vanuatu , as currently just seven thousand come here. New Zealand's also to allow Vanuatu paw paw to be imported, while Mr Peters says he's hopeful an agreement can soon be reached on labour mobility. He says the government group looking at the matter is talking with Pacific government down to village level to try and reach an agreement that the village takes some responsibility if the short-term workers overstay their visas.''"