More information about Vanuatu is available on the Vanuatu country page, from other Department of State publications, and from other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
The United States and the Republic of Vanuatu established diplomatic relations in 1986, six years after Vanuatu’s independence from France and the United Kingdom. Vanuatu, commonly known during the World War II era as part of the New Hebrides, played an important role in the Pacific theater in hosting military support bases and thousands of U.S and Allied soldiers. U.S. representation is handled by the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, and the U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea is accredited to Vanuatu. Peace Corps maintains a country office in Port Vila, Vanuatu. The United States and Vanuatu share a commitment to combatting the climate crisis, strengthening democracy, promoting development, and enhancing security. In 2016, the United States and Vanuatu signed a maritime law enforcement accord that includes shiprider and shipboarding provisions, providing our two countries with an important mechanism for cooperation on the reduction of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and for combating illicit transnational maritime activity in the region. U.S. military ships call on ports in Vanuatu to engage in training and exchanges with the Vanuatu Police Force.
U.S. Assistance to Vanuatu
The ni-Vanuatu Government focuses on strengthening its economy, which is primarily agricultural in nature. The United States is a major financial contributor to international and regional organizations that assist Vanuatu, including the World Bank, UN Children’s Fund, World Health Organization, UN Fund for Population Activities, and Asian Development Bank (ADB). Vanuatu was the recipient of a Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) $65 million compact in 2006, which constructed two critical roads on the country’s most populous islands and continues to provide economic benefits.
Peace Corps volunteers assist ni-Vanuatu communities and government departments in the areas of health, technology, and education. Peace Corps and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) cooperatively administer a small-grants project to assist communities in addressing environmental insecurity.
Much of USAID’s work in Vanuatu supports the ni-Vanuatu people adapt to the negative impacts of global climate change and focuses on disaster relief efforts, disaster risk reduction programs, and disaster response capacity. USAID activities are directed from a sub-regional office based in Embassy Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Additionally, the USAID Regional Pacific Islands Office located in Manila, Philippines helps oversee programming in 12 countries including Vanuatu.
The Climate Ready project (2016-2022) supports climate finance and climate adaptation management capacity. The Pacific American Fund (2020-2025) regional grant contributes to locally-designed and locally-led solutions aimed at increasing climate change resilience. With the Pacific Community, the Institutional Strengthening in Pacific Island Countries to Adapt to Climate Change project (ISACC, 2015-2022) amplifies government capacity to manage climate finances and scale up climate resilience projects. With the International Federation of the Red Cross, USAID supports the Vanuatu Red Cross Society in delivering community-based disaster management and community health programs. Programming with the international humanitarian organization CARE supports community-based disaster risk reduction efforts. USAID also supports Covid-19 prevention, response, and vaccine technical assistance activities in Vanuatu. Regional programs partnering with the UN World Food Program and UN Population Fund contribute to Covid-19 response in Vanuatu with health, protection, logistics, and emergency telecommunication activities.
Bilateral Economic Relations
U.S. trade with Vanuatu is limited, with the Covid-19 pandemic largely closing Vanuatu’s borders and impacting trade negatively. Vanuatu is a party to the Treaty on Fisheries between the United States and 16 Pacific Island parties, which provides access for certain U.S. fishing vessels in exchange for industry payments and promotes broader cooperation. Under a separate Economic Assistance Agreement associated with the Treaty, the United States government provides $21 million per year to support economic development in the region through the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, in 2021 the United States exported $4.4 million worth of goods to Vanuatu and imported $6.3 million worth. To boost economic growth opportunities and deepen trade and investment between the United States and Pacific Islands, USAID provided funding to create a regionally-based American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham). AmCham will foster better business information for U.S. and Pacific companies operating in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea and serve as a platform to advance the economic empowerment of women and under-represented communities.
Vanuatu’s Membership in International Organizations
Vanuatu and the United States belong to several of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, the Pacific Community, and Pacific Regional Environment Programme. Vanuatu also belongs to the Pacific Islands Forum, of which the United States is a Dialogue Partner. Vanuatu hosts the headquarters for the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
Principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
Vanuatu does not have an embassy in Washington, DC, but it maintains a Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.
More information about Vanuatu is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here: