Vanuatu’s new foreign policy in 100-day work plan: Napat

China Ambassador Li Minggang meets with Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Jotham Napat (November 2022)

Vanuatu’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade, Jotham Napat has announced a new and revised National Foreign Policy framework is his department’s priority for the 100-day work plan.

Napat intends to pursue a broader foreign policy, which looks beyond the current traditional bilateral and regional partnerships and horizons, whilst maintaining and strengthening current relationships.

“Vanuatu has, like other Pacific countries, too often in the past been seen in the international limelight as a subservient associate to others’ interests and agendas,” Minister Napat said. “This must change if Vanuatu is to take its rightful place as an equal partner in the international arena. The creation and implementation of a new National Foreign Policy must take into account current global geopolitical trends.”

The minister said the revised foreign policy will be the compass to guide the department and ministry in the performance of its duties.

“The global geopolitical environment has and will continue to change. Our government must implement foreign policy directions which will have as its first priority, the best interests of the nation and people of Vanuatu.

“Since the original foreign policy directions after independence, Vanuatu’s foreign policy approaches in the last 30 years have been at times unclear, ad hoc and reactive to circumstances and influences. It is time we set our own course and become proactive at all times,” Minister Napat said.

He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade is one of the most important arms of government and one of the biggest contributors to national development and economic growth.

“The result of our efforts in facilitating international cooperation and aiding investment can be seen in all areas of national development. When we lead our own policies, we prioritise our people.”

The ministry is also the only legally mandated State institution responsible for the nation’s foreign relationships and dealings.

A clear and concise foreign policy is the fundamental mandate of national governance to facilitate achievement of the country’s foreign aspirations and objectives with its bilateral, multilateral, sub-regional, regional and global partnerships.

“Our department will continue to foster good working relationships with our existing international partners whilst ensuring all opportunities for Ni-Vanuatu prosperity are investigated, supported and encouraged,” Minister Napat said. The revised policy is expected to be drafted by end of April 2023. It will be the first complete foreign policy since the independence of the country in 1980.