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 Vanuatu established diplomatic relations in 1986, six years after Vanuatu’s independence from France and the United Kingdom. The U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea is also accredited to Vanuatu. U.S. representation is handled by the U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea. Peace Corps maintains a country office in Port Vila, Vanuatu. The United States and Vanuatu share a commitment to strengthening democracy, enhancing security, and promoting development. In 2016, the United States and Vanuatu signed an historic law enforcement accord that includes a ship rider agreement, providing our two countries with a critical mechanism for cooperation on the reduction of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and the enhancement of maritime law enforcement. U.S. military ships regularly call on ports in Vanuatu to engage in training and exchanges with the Vanuatu Police Force.
U.S. Assistance to Vanuatu
The Vanuatu Government’s main concern has been to bolster the economy, which is primarily agricultural. 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). Peace Corps volunteers assist communities and government departments in Vanuatu in the areas of health, technology, and education. Peace Corps and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are cooperatively administering a small-grants project to assist communities in addressing environmental insecurity. 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. This project has had a positive impact across a range of economic and social indicators from entrepreneurship to health to women’s empowerment.
In Vanuatu and across the Pacific Islands region, USAID supports both programs that help communities adapt to the negative impacts of global climate change and initiatives that support disaster relief efforts, disaster risk reduction programs, and enhancements for local capacity to address disaster response. Following a volcanic eruption on Ambae Island, USAID provided $50,000 in disaster assistance to victims. USAID’s Pacific Islands Regional Office is currently located in Manila, Philippines and covers 12 nations: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Nauru, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of the Marshall Islands. The United States builds the capacity and resilience of Vanuatu to adapt to climate change through regional assistance that covers these 12 Pacific Island countries.
Bilateral Economic Relations
U.S. trade with Vanuatu is limited. 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 2018 the United States exported $10.3 million worth of goods to Vanuatu and imported $7.1 million worth.
Vanuatu’s Membership in International Organizations
Vanuatu and the United States belong to a number 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.
The U.S. Ambassador to Vanuatu is Elizabeth Erin McKee, resident in Papua New Guinea; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
Vanuatu does not have an embassy in Washington, DC, but has a 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: