1 May 2019

Vanuatu economy to remain steady after developed status change - IMF

2:36 pm on 1 May 2019

The International Monetary Fund says Vanuatu's economy will remain steady after it graduates from least developed country status next year.

The UN will upgrade Vanuatu to a developed country in December 2020, removing some of the financial assistance benefits it has enjoyed.

Cruise ship leaves Port Vila

Tourism is the largest industry in Vanuatu and international cruiseships are big part of it with multiple visits often taking place each week. Photo: RNZ Walter Zweifel

The International Monetary Fund, which led a team visit to Port Vila last week, said Vanuatu's development relationships will stay strong after graduation.

Team leader Dirk Muir said a full recovery from 2015's Cyclone Pam is in sight and the tourism industry is expected to continue to grow.

"Despite challenges from cyclones and the volcanic eruptions alongside weaker prices for its agricultural exports, construction remains a main driver, sustained by development-partner-funded infrastructure projects."

Mr Muir said Vanuatu's surplus of 3.5 percent GDP in 2018 was expected to revert to a deficit of 5 percent in 2019 because of airplane orders by national carrier Air Vanuatu.

He said there would be positive offsets from stronger tourism earnings and high remittances from New Zealand and Australia, aided by those countries' expanded seasonal work programs.

RSE worker in a Hawke's Bay orchard.

RSE worker in a Hawke's Bay orchard. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades