RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today joined the Government and people of the Cook Islands to officially open the upgraded Avatiu Port, which was substantially improved by the Avatiu Port Development Project.
“The project has not only extended the life of Avatiu Port, but has already boosted the safety and efficiency of port operations in Cook Islands,” said Richard Neves, Financial Secretary for the Cook Islands Ministry of Financial and Economic Management.
Avatiu is the country’s principal international port, which handles 90% of Cook Islands’ imports by sea. Cook Islands is heavily reliant on imports to support tourism which accounts for more than 50% of the country’s gross domestic product. Tourism earnings are expected to increase further as cruise ships are now able to berth at Avatiu.
“ADB has maintained a long and active presence in Cook Islands supporting priority infrastructure investments, such as this Avatiu Port project, that aim to boost private sector-led and environmentally sustainable economic growth,” said Ayumi Konishi, Deputy Director General of ADB’s Pacific Department.
Under the project, the port’s main wharf was climate-proofed to make it less vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather. The harbor entrance was widened to enable larger vessels to berth at the renovated wharf, which is already boosting the delivery of essential social services and consumer goods.
ADB has provided Cook Islands a range of development assistance in the form of loans, grants and technical assistance. Since joining ADB in 1976, ADB has approved 17 loan projects amounting to $US59.71 million, including a grant component of $0.80 million and 32 technical assistance projects of almost $11.4 million.