Her Excellency Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray (center), Ambassador of the United States of America to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu with students and staff of Emalus Campus.
The Ambassador of the United States of America to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, Her Excellency Catherine Ebert-Gray paid a courtesy visit to The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Emalus Campus in Vanuatu on 19 September 2017.
H.E Ebert-Gray met the Emalus staff and students and shed light on some development topics that her Government is working on in the region, especially in Vanuatu.
In welcoming H.E Ebert-Gray, Mr Ruben Bakeo Markward, Emalus Group Manager said that it was a great pleasure and honour to have the Ambassador at the Campus.
The Ambassador said that she was particularly impressed with how Vanuatu is rebuilding its economy after Cyclone Pam, as well as other developments such as the Port Vila Waterfront development.
She added that she was really impressed with the way Vanuatu economy is being rebuilt with the assistance of international partners.
H.E. Ebert-Gray revealed that healthcare and tertiary education are priority areas, and that the United States Government has 76 Peace Corp volunteers currently serving in Vanuatu.
She confirmed that half of the volunteers are working in schools in rural areas and the other half are serving in community health throughout the country.
Ambassador Ebert-Gray said whenever she visits Vanuatu, she tries to focus on multiple areas and as part of her visit this time, she visited the Minister of Tourism, a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) and a parliamentary secretary.
She informed the staff and students at Emalus that she had visited an NGO called Alternative Communities Trade in Vanuatu (ACTIV), to learn about the award-winning chocolate of Vanuatu and coffee.
On the Interest of the United States in the Pacific Region H.E. Ebert-Gray confirmed that her country has invested a total of US$350 million in the past year in the Pacific Island Countries (PICs), in education and exchange programmes.
She said that the new United States Administration is looking at efficiencies, which will affect some of its development programmes in the long term.
H.E. Ebert-Gray revealed that she has been asked to economise, which meant that it will affect some of their development programmes in the short term. But she also reassured staff and students that a lot of priorities of America are not going to change.
These priorities include good governance, elections observation, combating corruption, human trafficking, human rights abuses and regional corporations.
On environment, the Ambassador told those present that the US Administration is seeking to balance the Paris Agreement with the economic development of the United States.
However, Ambassador Ebert-Gray confirmed that the President and the State Department is committed to the climate treaty and that the United States is going to COP 23 in Germany in November.
“The United States would just like to negotiate the terms to make the United States continue to invest in Climate Change in the world, particularly in the Pacific region,” she said.
H.E. Ebert-Gray has served over half of her career in the Pacific region and as the United States Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, for eighteen (18) months.
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