Mr. Manuel Cacho, new Ambassador of Spain to Vanuatu, in exclusive interview for Vila Times, talks about Spanish companies in the Pacific, economical potential of Vanuatu and why Spain has decided to increase its presence in this region.
During the presentation of the letter of credentials to Vanuatu’s Head of State you mentioned that “a substantial number” of Spanish companies are “looking for business opportunities” in the Pacific region. Are there any Spanish businesses already planning to establish their presence in Vanuatu?
Spain, which is the 14th economy in the world and the 5th in the European Union, has businesses which are highly competitive, many of them global players in fields such as infrastructure, renewable energy, tourism, water treatment, to name a few. Some of them have a significant presence in Australia and are looking for opportunities in the region. In that sense, we can say Vanuatu is on the radar of those businesses, if the opportunity arises.
You have also said that “Spain is back in this area of the world and fully committed” to the Pacific. What exactly did you mean? What are the main areas Spain intents to extent its Pacific presence in, and is there a general strategy for Spain’s development of its presence in this region?
After deciding to increase its presence in the Pacific region, Spain became, in 2014, a member of the Post Forum Dialogue of the Pacific Islands Forum. At the same time it joined a Memorandum of Understanding between a number of European countries and the Small Pacific Islands States, to which Spain contributed with an initial disbursement of 1 million euro to fight against the consequences of climate change. We consider climate change a challenge and the fight against it a priority. At the United Nations we fully support that all initiatives related to fighting climate change take into account the pressing needs of the Small Islands States which are undoubtedly the more affected.
Besides, being the fifth contributor to the European development Fund, Spain supports keeping the European cooperation effort towards Vanuatu. As you know, in the pipeline is the imminent approval of 25 million euros per cooperation with Vanuatu.
What are your views on the current political and economic status of Vanuatu in the Pacific region?
The Pacific region has an increasing political and economic weight at the global stage and consequently Vanuatu shares the increasing importance and visibility of the whole area.
From your point of view, what are the main issues Vanuatu needs to address nowadays first? Would that be economy, legislation, healthcare?
Development is a whole, and as such it should be focused with an integral approach, although priorities and timing are logically for the government to determine.
And also what are the main opportunities for Vanuatu to develop and succeed globally, from your point of view?
Vanuatu is full of potential. Spain has had contacts in the sector of fisheries. We have recently financed a project on youth and ecological agriculture, as well as a project on electrification of rural communities.
In my view tourism has a big future in Vanuatu. Related to that, and the need to have people linguistically prepared to work with Spanish speaking tourists, during my recent visit to Vanuatu I have offered the Government 10 scholarships for virtual courses in Spanish by our language official centre, the Instituto Cervantes.