Resilience and Growth in the Small States of the Pacific
Front Matter

Front Matter

Author(s):
Hoe Ee Khor, Roger Kronenberg, and Patrizia Tumbarello
Published Date:
August 2016
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    Resilience and Growth in the Small States of the Pacific

    Resilience and Growth in the Small States of the Pacific

    EDITORS

    Hoe Ee Khor, Roger P. Kronenberg, and Patrizia Tumbarello

    ©2016 International Monetary Fund

    Cover design: IMF Multimedia Services Division

    Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Joint Bank-Fund Library

    Names: Khor, Hoe Ee. | Kronenberg, Roger P. | Tumbarello, Patrizia. | International Monetary Fund. Title: Resilience and growth in the small states of the Pacific / editors: Hoe Ee Khor, Roger P. Kronenberg, and Patrizia Tumbarello.

    Other titles:

    Description: Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund, 2016. | Includes bibliographical references and index.

    Identifiers: ISBN 978-1-51350-752-1 (paper)

    Subjects: LCSH: Islands of the Pacific—Economic conditions. | Economic development—Islands of the Pacific.

    Classification: LCC HC681.R475 2016

    The views expressed in this book are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the International Monetary Fund, its Executive Board, or IMF management.

    Maps in this volume were produced by the Map Design Unit of the World Bank. The boundaries, colors, denominations, and any other information shown do not imply, on the part of the World Bank Group, any judgment on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of such boundaries.

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    Contents

    Foreword

    Policymakers in the small Pacific states face unique challenges in increasing their growth potential. These countries tend to be highly remote and dispersed, exposed to severe shocks, vulnerable to natural disasters and the effects of climate change, face infrastructure gaps, and have very narrow production and exports bases. These problems are particularly acute for microstates—countries with populations under 200,000. Capacity constraints are a key challenge for all small Pacific states.

    Recognizing these challenges, continuous engagement with Pacific islands has long been a priority for the IMF. In 1993 it established the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Center—the first of the IMF’s regional technical assistance centers—to help foster capacity building with the support of development partners. The IMF’s work in the region has intensified in recent years, particularly amid its growing engagement in small states. This can clearly be seen in the production of major analytical studies on small-state issues, high-level conferences focusing on the most pertinent policy questions small states face, and the more visible participation of IMF management in high-profile events involving small states. The IMF recently issued a guidance note—tailored to the particular conditions of small states—to better inform IMF staff working in these countries.

    Resilience and Growth in the Small States of the Pacific gathers recent analytical work on the challenges Pacific island countries face and the policy responses they could consider to overcome them. Many of the chapters in this book are based on papers that were presented and discussed during two high-level regional conferences on the Pacific islands, jointly organized by the IMF and the governments of Samoa in 2012 and Vanuatu in 2013. They have thus benefited from the views and insights of the conference participants, which included policymakers, leading scholars specializing in small states and Pacific island issues, and representatives from the donor community and private sector. The policy advice in this book contributes significantly to the literature on the best policy options for decision makers in Pacific island countries and for small states generally.

    This book raises awareness about the challenges faced by Pacific island countries, and offers policy options that should help authorities overcome their development needs and leverage their full potential in achieving inclusive and sustainable growth.

    Min Zhu

    Deputy Managing Director

    International Monetary Fund

    Preface

    Economic growth in the small island states of the Pacific has been disappointing for more than a decade.1 During the 10 years leading up to the 2008–09 global financial crisis, real GDP growth for the group averaged just 2 percent a year, considerably lower than in the countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (4 percent), other small states (4½ percent), and low-income countries of Asia (7 percent). Average real income per capita in the Pacific island countries has increased by less than 10 percent since 1990, compared with 40 percent in the Eastern Caribbean, 25 percent in the group of all small states, and about 150 percent in emerging Asia. Growth in the Pacific island countries in the 2000s was the lowest in four decades. As of 2014, average gross national income per capita in these countries was just one-third that of the Caribbean countries. Among Pacific island countries recovery from the global financial crisis has also generally lagged that in Asian low-income and emerging market economies.

    This book examines the factors that have contributed to the low rates of economic growth in the region and seeks to identify policies that could help enhance resilience and raise growth performance in a way that is both inclusive and sustainable. Most chapters are based on papers presented at three high-level regional conferences that were organized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and hosted by the governments of Fiji, Samoa, and Vanuatu between 2012 and 2015.2

    The picture that emerges is that the Pacific island countries’ below-par growth performance can only partly be explained by the region’s unique physical characteristics, including their very small populations and internal markets, extreme geographic isolation, vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change, narrow production bases, and the depletion or unsustainable exploitation of natural resources. In addition to these physical characteristics, economic growth in the region has also been constrained by policy-related factors, such as weak macroeconomic policy frameworks and implementation capacity, lack of financial depth, laws and customs that limit the flexibility of product and factor markets, particularly the real estate market, and, in some cases, high levels of public debt, dependence on foreign aid, and history of political instability.

    Chapters in this book are grouped into four sections, examining growth and resilience, spillovers and vulnerabilities, macroeconomic policy, and structural impediments to growth. The main message is that there is scope for the Pacific island countries to strengthen the policy environment and improve growth performance. However, to do so, governments in the region need to put in place policies that foster macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability, build institutions through reforms, strengthen confidence in the policy framework, promote the development of financial markets, and improve the business environment to attract foreign direct investment. Another challenge the authors identify is finding the right balance between the need to build fiscal buffers to enhance resilience and the need to fund development spending. Finally, the reader may be interested in the appendices, which provide economic profiles of each of the 12 countries covered in this book.

    Setting the Stage: the Quest for Resilience and Growth in the Pacific Islands

    In the first part of the book, contributors explore the factors that have adversely affected growth in the region, as well as economic vulnerabilities and how to build resilience to them. Chapter 2, by Ezequiel Cabezon, Patrizia Tumbarello, and Yiqun Wu, identifies characteristics that have been shown to impede growth in Pacific island countries, including small populations, geographical isolation, narrow export and production bases, the lack of economies of scale, limited access to both domestic and international capital markets, exposure to shocks (including natural disasters and climate change), a heavy reliance on foreign aid, high fixed costs of establishing public services, a limited range of economic policy instruments, and a high cost of doing business. The chapter points to the importance of building policy buffers to enhance resilience and of improving the composition of public spending, especially in education, to lift potential growth.

    Small states are inherently more vulnerable economically than other groups of countries. Nevertheless, small states can succeed if they adopt policies conducive to good economic, social, and political governance. In Chapter 3, Lino Briguglio highlights the importance of setting policy directions and priorities that focus on strengthening the resilience of small states, presenting a framework for understanding the benefits of good political, economic, social, and environmental governance in countries with high vulnerability to external economic shocks.

    In Chapter 4, Yongzheng Yang, Hong Chen, Shiu Raj Singh, and Baljeet Singh zero in on slow growth rates and tepid recovery in Pacific island countries following the global financial crisis, comparing them with other groups of countries with similar characteristics. The chapter sheds some light on slowing growth in the 2000s, and attempts to tease out the roles played by natural conditions and policy-related factors.

    The Pacific island countries are among the most susceptible to natural disasters in the world. The combination of location and small size heightens their vulnerability to earthquakes and weather-related extremes such as cyclones, tsunamis, hurricanes, and floods. Furthermore, climate change poses risks to the very survival of some Pacific atoll islands. Natural disasters have a negative impact on both short-term and longer-term potential growth, as well as on public finances. In Chapter 5, Ezequiel Cabezon, Leni Hunter, Patrizia Tumbarello, Kazuaki Washimi, and Yiqun Wu present the first cross-country IMF study assessing fiscal indicators and the consequences of natural disaster damage and losses for growth in Pacific island countries as a group. The chapter offers policymakers a policy framework for boosting resilience to natural disasters. It also clarifies the role the IMF can play in helping Pacific island countries face the challenges posed by natural disasters in the design and formulation of their macroeconomic policy.

    Managing External Spillovers, Shocks, and Vulnerabilities

    The four chapters in this section of the book elaborate on the vulnerability of Pacific island countries to external shocks, particularly commodity price shocks, and spillovers from within the region and globally. In Chapter 6, Fazurin Jamaludin, Niamh Sheridan, Patrizia Tumbarello, Yiqun Wu, and Tlek Zeinullayev show that the Pacific island countries have become more closely integrated with the economies of Australia, New Zealand, and emerging Asia over the past two decades, with a corresponding increase in inward spillovers from the region. China has become a major market for commodity exports, making spillovers from China increasingly important.

    Chapter 7, by Patrick Colmer and Richard Wood, highlights the importance of natural resource endowments, economic integration, debt levels, and macroeconomic imbalances in explaining differences in growth performance. Although the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008 did not have a substantial direct impact, given their generally low levels of financial development, the Pacific island countries did experience a significant adverse impact from the ensuing global recession, operating mainly through exports and remittances. The negative impact was greatest for the smallest, most fragile countries, particularly those with foreign trust funds.

    In Chapter 8, Xuefei Bai, Patrizia Tumbarello, and Yiqun Wu study inflation in Pacific island countries since the early 2000s. Spillovers of international commodity (especially food) prices and exchange rates have been rapid and significant. However, owing to more prudent macroeconomic policies and more diversified import sources, these countries also appear to have become more resilient to external inflationary shocks.

    Chris Becker, in Chapter 9, provides further evidence that the small populations and extreme geographic isolation of the Pacific island countries—both from major global markets and from each other—have had significantly adverse consequences for growth performance, and ranks Tuvalu, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau as the five most vulnerable countries in the world. The lack of arable land is a significant constraint in many of the countries.

    Tailoring Macroeconomic Policies to the Small States of the Pacific

    Five chapters are devoted to analyzing the importance of policy instruments to support growth. In Chapter 10, Ezequiel Cabezon, Patrizia Tumbarello, and Yiqun Wu explore how policies can best support economic growth given the extent of the natural impediments and limited policy options available to the national authorities. The unique characteristics of Pacific island countries make fiscal management more challenging than in most other countries, including other small states. Nevertheless, strengthening fiscal frameworks is the key to long-term growth. Given the large development needs that these countries face, a key challenge for policymakers is the trade-off between building fiscal buffers to foster resilience to shocks and funding additional investment spending. The chapter examines the opportunity cost of building such buffers.

    Owing to small size and a lack of scale, the government sector plays a significant role in the economies of small states, particularly the remote and dispersed Pacific island countries. Sergei Dodzin and Xuefei Bai, in Chapter 11, present a practical framework that links fiscal aggregates, GDP, public and private sector employment, and other factors to analyze fiscal multipliers and the impact of fiscal policies on growth, with applications to Kiribati and Palau.

    During the global financial crisis, central banks in some Pacific island countries eased monetary policy to stimulate growth. However, the monetary policy transmission mechanism was weak, according to the findings detailed in Chapter 12 by Yongzheng Yang, Matt Davies, Shengzu Wang, Jonathan Dunn, and Yiqun Wu. The chapter highlights the importance of developing domestic financial markets, and stresses the need to coordinate macroeconomic policies and to use all macro-economic tools available in designing countercyclical policies, including exchange rate flexibility.

    Vulnerability to commodity price shocks poses challenges to monetary policy in Pacific island countries. The high degree of exchange rate pass-through to headline inflation and weak monetary transmission mechanisms suggest exchange rate changes are more effective than monetary policy in managing inflation. To assess the trade-off between the use of the exchange rate and monetary policy in macroeconomic stabilization, Shanaka Peiris and Ding Ding use a model-based approach to examine the optimal policy in response to the historical distribution of exogenous shocks in a Pacific island country. The empirical evidence and model simulations they describe in Chapter 13 favor employing exchange rate policy given the close relationship between exchange rate changes and headline inflation and low interest rate sensitivity of aggregate demand.

    In Chapter 14, Jan Gottschalk revisits the issues of excess liquidity and interest rate pass-through in the Pacific and argues that the effectiveness of monetary transmission in the Pacific is inhibited by the absence of a number of channels that are available to central banks in advanced economies. Monetary transmission is therefore dependent on interest rate pass-through, which has been ineffective in the Pacific. Although very little can be done to improve the functioning of the interest rate channel in the short term, policy options are available over the longer term to improve the functioning of the banking sector, in terms of both enhanced competition and market infrastructure.

    Removing Structural Impediments to Growth

    The final section of the book looks at the structural impediments to growth, including public financial management, trade, and banking sector characteristics, taking a look back at the roles played by these obstacles to growth, and then forward to strategies that, if implemented, could help lift Pacific island countries to greater prosperity. Chapter 15, by Tobias Haque, Richard Bontjer, Mary Betley, and Ron Hackett, argues that the economic vulnerability of the Pacific island countries is exacerbated by weaknesses in their public financial management systems. In view of the severe shortage of expertise and implementation capacity in many countries in the region, reform should be carefully prioritized to address the most serious and binding constraints affecting each individual country, instead of attempting to implement all facets of “international best practice” standards in a comprehensive single stage. Efforts should focus initially on improving functions that are likely to have the greatest impact on the countries’ development priorities and objectives, such as building the revenue base, achieving a better alignment between government spending programs and social and economic objectives, and ensuring greater resilience to economic volatility and natural disasters.

    International trade is vital for economic prosperity in Pacific island countries, but their trade performance has been generally weak over the past decade, with the exception of resource-rich countries. In Chapter 16, Hong Chen, Lanieta Rauqeuqe, Shiu Raj Singh, Yiqun Wu, and Yongzheng Yang note that the Pacific island countries have much scope to diversify trade into Asian markets. The authors argue that the emergence of Asia as a dynamic global economic region presents the Pacific island countries with an unprecedented opportunity to develop trade, particularly in tourism. Moreover, if stronger synergies can be established between tourism, agriculture, and fisheries, countries stand a better chance to improve broad-based growth.

    In Chapter 17, Nooman Rebei investigates the determinants and implications of high spreads between bank deposit and lending interest rates. Such high spreads may be an indication of low competition in the banking industry, which can hinder access to credit by the private sector and impede growth, as well as reduce the effectiveness of the credit channel for the transmission of monetary policy, both of which are identified in earlier chapters as impediments to growth. Rebei uses an innovative set of macroeconomic and bank-specific data for the Solomon Islands to develop his theory. He concludes that some scope exists for increasing competition in the Solomon Islands’ banking sector, but financial deepening also requires the development of nonbank institutions.

    In Chapter 18, Matt Davies, John Vaught, and Ezequiel Cabezon provide comparative information on interest rate levels, key profitability indicators, and capital adequacy across the Pacific island countries and vis-à-vis other selected regions, to better contextualize regulatory actions and reforms that are needed to increase the depth, breadth, and efficiency of the financial sector in the Pacific. Although the focus of efforts must necessarily be at the national level, coordinated regional action also has a role to play, particularly given similarities in the underlying regulatory systems.

    The group of Pacific island nations examined in this book consists of Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, all of which are members of the IMF. Timor-Leste is also included, because it shares similar prospects and challenges with these Pacific island countries.

    Participants in the conferences included finance ministers, central bank governors, and other policymakers from the region, as well as officials from international financial institutions and regional agencies (the Asian Development Bank, the IMF, the Pacific Forum Secretariat), representatives of major bilateral donors (Australia, China, the European Union, Japan, Korea, New Zealand), leading academics, and private sector representatives. For more information on the conferences, see http://www.imf.org/external/np/seminars/eng/2012/PIC; http://www.imf.org/external/np/seminars/eng/2013/PIC; and https://www.imf.org/external/np/seminars/eng/2015/fiji.

    Acknowledgments

    This book is the product of a strong partnership among Pacific island policymakers, development partners, academics, experts, and IMF staff. Most of the papers contained in this volume have been presented at the IMF high-level regional conferences in Samoa, Vanuatu, and Fiji, in 2012, 2013, and 2015 and greatly benefited from the discussion with the Pacific small states’ authorities and other stakeholders.

    This book would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of IMF Deputy Managing Director Min Zhu and of Changyong Rhee, Director of the Asia and Pacific Department. Special thanks go to our colleagues for their help in ensuring the successful completion of this book. We would like to thank in particular Sergei Dodzin for leading the production of the country annexes in strong collaboration with country teams. We are very grateful to Dongyeol Lee, Kazuaki Washimi, and Yiqun Wu who made the production of this book possible and to Ezequiel Cabezon and Tlek Zeinullayev for updating all the charts and tables. Gabriel Alvim, Justin Flinner, and Kathie Jamasali provided excellent administrative assistance. Fazurin Jamaludin coordinated all stages of production.

    We are in debt to Joanne Creary from the IMF’s Communications Department who edited the manuscript and together with Patricia Loo provided exceptional collaboration in coordinating the publication of this book.

    Contributors

    Xuefei Bai, a national of China, is a section chief in the International Department of the People’s Bank of China, and works on regional financial cooperation issues. He also served for one year in the Asia and Pacific Department of the IMF as a special appointee economist, working on Kiribati and Tuvalu.

    Chris Becker, a national of Australia and Germany, works at the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) as the head of domestic liquidity management, and also consults to the IMF providing advice and technical assistance on monetary and foreign exchange market policies and operations. He has held a variety of managerial positions at the RBA in departments covering economic analysis, domestic and international financial markets, as well as financial stability. He worked at the IMF Board from 2010 to 2012, where he represented members including Australia, Korea, New Zealand, and several Pacific island countries.

    Mary Betley, a British national, works as a consultant providing advice and technical assistance in the areas of public financial management, public expenditure management, and budgetary policy and planning. She has experience assisting governments with budget and public financial management reforms in numerous countries in east Asia and the Pacific, central and south Asia, Africa, and eastern Europe. She has also participated in a number of IMF Fiscal Affairs Department missions.

    Richard Bontjer, a national of Australia, is Director of Public Financial Management Advice in the Pacific Division of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Prior to joining DFAT, Mr. Bontjer served as an advisor for the Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF, focusing on countries affected by conflict, and as a fiscal specialist consultant to the World Bank and the Panel of Experts for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Partnership for Democratic Governance (PDG). He also has held a variety of positions in the Australian Department of Finance.

    Lino Briguglio, a national of Malta, is the Director of the Islands and Small States Institute of the University of Malta and a Professor of Economics at the same university. He is known internationally for his seminal work on the “Vulnerability Index,” which measures the extent to which countries are exposed to external economic shocks. He has also pioneered work on the measurement of economic resilience. He has acted as consultant to various international organizations on studies and reports relating to small states.

    Ezequiel Cabezon, a national of Argentina, is an economist in the IMF’s European Department, and the desk economist for Albania. Before this, he was in the Asia and Pacific Department of the IMF, where he worked on the Pacific island countries, and he has also worked at the Inter-American Development Bank, focusing on the South American region.

    Hong Chen, a national of China, is a senior researcher at the China Institute of Economic Transformation and Opening, Lingnan (University) College, Sun Yat-Sen University, China. She has been a consultant for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the United Nations Population Fund, working on projects related to trade and development.

    Patrick Colmer, a national of Australia, works as a consultant providing advice and technical assistance in the subject areas of foreign investment, indirect tax, government relations, and development. His clients include governments in the Asia-Pacific region. He was previously the general manager of the International Finance and Development Division of the Australian Treasury. He has 25 years’ experience as a senior policy advisor with various Australian government agencies.

    Matt Davies, a division chief in the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department. He has worked extensively in Asia and the Pacific, including as coordinator of the IMF’s Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre based in Fiji. Prior to joining the IMF he worked in the United Kingdom and Papua New Guinea governments.

    Ding Ding, a Chinese national, is a senior economist in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department. He is currently the desk economist on Korea and mission chief for Kiribati. He has worked on a number of advanced and emerging market economies, including Australia, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka, and has published on a variety of topics such as macro-financial linkages, monetary policy transmission, and macroeconomic modeling and forecasting. He holds a PhD in Economics from Cornell University.

    Sergei Dodzin, a senior economist in the Asia and Pacific Department (APD). He led missions to Kiribati and worked on various IMF country teams, including Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Fiji, and, prior to joining APD, Serbia during the global financial crisis. As a member of the APD Small States Unit he was extensively involved in the analytical and policy work on small states. He also worked on an external assignment at the U.K. Financial Services Authority in 2007–08, where he participated in supervisory assessment of complex financial institutions and research and supervisory projects. His research interests include international economics, finance, and macro-financial linkages. Mr. Dodzin holds a PhD in Economics from Harvard University.

    Jonathan Dunn is currently the IMF’s resident representative to Vietnam and Lao P.D.R. He has been a deputy division chief at the IMF and the IMF mission chief for Fiji, Maldives, and Tajikistan. During 2009–11 he coordinated work on the Pacific islands in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department. He has also been the IMF’s resident representative in Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Georgia, and Nigeria.

    Jan Gottschalk, a national of Germany, is a senior economist in the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department. He was previously the macroeconomic advisor at the IMF’s Thailand Technical Assistance Office and prior to that the macroeconomic advisor at the IMF Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre (PFTAC) during 2010 to 2013. At PFTAC he helped build capacity for macroeconomic analysis and forecasting at ministries of finance and central banks in the Pacific. Before joining the IMF in 2001, he worked on business cycle research and forecasting in Germany.

    Ron Hackett is Public Financial Management Advisor in the IMF Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre. Prior to joining the IMF in 2011, he served for 15 years as a project manager and hands-on advisor for several fiscal reform projects in developing countries funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. His international development work was preceded by 20 years of budget management experience related to financing education, public employee pensions, and human services in the Minnesota State Budget Office.

    Tobias Haque, a New Zealand national, is an economist at the World Bank, working on public financial management, economic policy, and debt management issues. Based in Washington, he previously spent three years based in the IMF Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre office in Suva, Fiji, and earlier lived in Honiara while working as the World Bank country economist for the Solomon Islands. He has published several research papers and policy reports promoting context-appropriate approaches to public financial management and economic management in Pacific island countries.

    Leni Hunter, a New Zealand national, joined the Asia and Pacific Department of the IMF in 2013, working primarily on Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste. During 2011–13 she served on the IMF’s Executive Board as the senior advisor from New Zealand. Prior to joining the IMF she spent 11 years at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand in various roles. She holds a Master of Commerce Degree in Economics from the University of Auckland.

    Fazurin Jamaludin, a Malaysian national, is an economist in the Small States Unit of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department. His country work experience at the IMF includes the Central African Republic, Maldives, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste. Prior to joining the IMF, he worked on capital market development and regulatory issues in emerging markets and developing economies.

    Hoe Ee Khor is the Chief Economist of the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) and former deputy director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department. He started his career as an economist at the IMF in 1981 and has worked on a wide range of economies from the Caribbean and Pacific islands to southeast Asia, Korea, and Mexico. He was the IMF resident representative in China during 1991–93, and has written papers and reports on a wide range of topics and countries, focusing primarily on macroeconomic, monetary, and financial issues. He worked at the Monetary Authority of Singapore during 1996–2009 and was assistant managing director (Economics) responsible for monetary policy, financial stability, and international relations. He was also chief economist at the Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development during 2009–12.

    Roger P. Kronenberg is a macroeconomic and financial policy consultant. He retired from a 29-year career with the IMF in 2010. As an advisor in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, Mr. Kronenberg coordinated work on the Pacific island countries, and headed IMF mission teams for a diverse group of countries, including Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Samoa.

    Shanaka J. Peiris is the IMF’s resident representative to the Philippines and covers ASEAN macro-financial surveillance for the Asia and Pacific Department. Prior to this he was a senior economist in the Asia and Pacific and Monetary and Capital Markets Departments of the IMF covering ASEAN countries and south Asia. He was also a mission chief to Pacific island countries and led a subworking group on asset price risks for the G-20 Mutual Assessment Program. He has published papers in academic journals on a wide range of topics, including inclusive growth, monetary policy and inflation, bond markets, banking and finance, and macroeconomic models for emerging markets, and has coauthored a book on poststabilization economics in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Lanieta Rauqeuqe, a national of Fiji, is currently a senior economist at the Reserve Bank of Fiji, and previously worked as a local economist at the IMF’s Resident Representative Office for the Pacific Islands, based in Suva, Fiji.

    Nooman Rebei is a senior economist in the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department. He has a PhD in Economics from the University of Quebec at Montreal, specializing in macroeconomics and monetary and fiscal policies. Before joining the IMF, he was a principal economist in the central banks of Canada and Spain. He also worked at the African Development Bank as a research economist.

    Niamh Sheridan, a national of Ireland, is a senior economist in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, the mission chief for Samoa, and desk economist for Malaysia. Before this, she worked on Fiji, Australia, and Singapore. She has also worked in the IMF’s Institute for Capacity Development, training government officials on a broad range of macroeconomic topics.

    Baljeet Singh, a national of Fiji, is a lecturer at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji. Before this, he was an economic planning officer at the Ministry of National Planning, Fiji. His research focuses on development issues in the Oceania region.

    Shiu Raj Singh, a national of Fiji, is a Senior Public Finance Management Officer in the Asian Development Bank’s Pacific Department, and the country economist and country officer for Samoa. Before this, he worked in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department as a desk economist for Samoa and Tuvalu. He has also worked as an economist for the Government of Fiji.

    Patrizia Tumbarello is the unit chief of the Small States Unit of the Asia and Pacific Department of the IMF. She oversees the work on the small states of the Pacific, and she is currently also the mission chief for the Solomon Islands. She has also worked on Australia, Vietnam, Albania, Moldova, Algeria, and Morocco. Prior to working in the Asia and Pacific Department, she spent time in the IMF’s Strategy, Policy, and Review and Middle East and Central Asia Departments, focusing on emerging markets and economies in transition. Her research interests and publications have focused on enhancing macroeconomic resilience to natural disasters and climate change, fiscal frameworks, trade, and corporate and bank vulnerabilities.

    Jon Vaught was formerly the Financial Sector Supervision Advisor at the IMF Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre (PFTAC). Prior to joining PFTAC, he provided technical assistance to a number of countries under the IMF technical assistance program, including Swaziland, where he was resident advisor for three years.

    Shengzu Wang is currently the China Economist at Barclays Capital Asia, based in Hong Kong SAR. He was previously an economist in the European Department of the IMF covering the euro area and Greece. Since joining the IMF in 2009, he has also worked on economic surveillance and lending programs on a variety of advanced and emerging market economies in Asia-Pacific and Africa. Dr. Wang received his PhD in Economics from McGill University. He also served as an assistant professor at Fudan University, China.

    Kazuaki Washimi, a national of Japan, is an economist in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, and the desk economist for Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Timor-Leste. Prior to joining the IMF, he worked as an economist in the Research and Statistics Department of the Bank of Japan.

    Richard Wood was formerly a policy advisor at the Australian Treasury, and represented Australia at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Paris Club.

    Yiqun Wu, a Chinese national, is an economist in the IMF Asia and Pacific Department (APD), and the desk economist for the Solomon Islands. His country experience at the IMF includes Kiribati, Palau, and Papua New Guinea. He has also worked in APD’s Regional Studies Division and coauthored several analytical chapters in the Regional Economic Outlook: Asia and Pacific.

    Yongzheng Yang is currently a deputy division chief in the Asia and Pacific Department of the IMF and the IMF’s mission chief for Myanmar. Prior to this, he was the IMF’s resident representative in Pacific island countries from 2010 to 2014 and served as the mission chief for Papua New Guinea and Samoa. Mr. Yang has also worked on countries in Africa and Central Asia, as well as on IMF policies toward low-income countries. Before joining the IMF in 2001, he was a senior lecturer at The Australian National University, where he taught for 10 years. His most recent research focuses on economic growth, exchange rate policy, and monetary policy transmission mechanisms in Pacific island countries and the role of emerging donors in the economic development of low-income countries.

    Tlek Zeinullayev, a national of Kazakhstan, is a research analyst in the Small States Unit of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department. Prior to joining the IMF, he worked as a consultant at the World Bank in the Europe and Central Asia Chief Economist Office. He holds an MPhil in Economics from Oxford University.

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