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Ms. Shari Boyce, Mr. Sergei Dodzin, Mr. Xuefei Bai, Ezequiel Cabezon, Mr. Fazurin Jamaludin, Mr. Yiqun Wu, and Ms. Rosanne Heller

Abstract

Context: The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is going through a period of output fluctuations. The economy expanded in FY2012 by 3.2 percent, supported by export growth, but in FY2013 is estimated to have slowed to 0.8 percent due to the postponement of infrastructure projects. A fiscal deficit of 0.8 percent of GDP was recorded in FY2012 and another deficit of similar magnitude is estimated for FY2013.

Ms. Shari Boyce, Mr. Sergei Dodzin, Mr. Xuefei Bai, Ezequiel Cabezon, Mr. Fazurin Jamaludin, Mr. Yiqun Wu, and Ms. Rosanne Heller

Abstract

How involved is the IMF in the Pacific?

Ms. Shari Boyce, Mr. Sergei Dodzin, Mr. Xuefei Bai, Ezequiel Cabezon, Mr. Fazurin Jamaludin, Mr. Yiqun Wu, and Ms. Rosanne Heller

Abstract

Average growth in the small states in the Asia and Pacific region remained weak (1 percent) in 2013 and underperformed that in other small states—2 percent. However, activity within the Asia-Pacific small states was uneven, with commodity exporters growing at the rate of 3 percent which, while robust, was lower than past rates (Figure 1). Economic performance in the microstates (i.e., countries with a population below 200,000—Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu) lagged behind with growth estimated at less than 1 percent. Inflation has remained broadly in check. These countries remain highly vulnerable to natural disasters as shown by the recent cyclones in Tonga and Vanuatu, and severe floods in Solomon Islands.

Ms. Shari Boyce, Mr. Sergei Dodzin, Mr. Xuefei Bai, Ezequiel Cabezon, Mr. Fazurin Jamaludin, Mr. Yiqun Wu, and Ms. Rosanne Heller

Abstract

The work on the small states is an important component of the IMF’s global policy agenda. Among the 36 member countries covered by the IMF Asia and Pacific Department (APD), 13 countries are developing small states—most of which are Pacific islands. As part of APD’s ongoing effort to increase its engagement with regional small states and their development partners and enhance information sharing within the IMF, this issue marks the launch of the APD Small States Monitor, a quarterly bulletin featuring the latest economic developments, country notes from the most recent Article IV staff reports, special topics, past and upcoming events, and forthcoming IMF research on small states. In future issues, we will also host contributions from the authorities of small states and their development partners on key policy topics. Our goal is to exchange knowledge and deepen our understanding of the policy challenges these economies face to better tailor our policy advice.

Ms. Shari Boyce, Mr. Sergei Dodzin, Mr. Xuefei Bai, Ezequiel Cabezon, Mr. Fazurin Jamaludin, Mr. Yiqun Wu, and Ms. Rosanne Heller

Abstract

Fishing license fees are a major source of revenue in several Pacific island countries (Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Tuvalu). In 2013 the fee earnings ranged from 15 percent of total revenues in the Marshall Islands to 65 percent in Kiribati. Despite the large fishery-derived wealth, PICs still have enormous untapped marine resources and further efforts are under way to properly leverage and manage them. First, the ratio of the income PICs receive by selling fishing rights to foreign companies to the value of the fish catch is very low. Second, an improperly designed access right scheme could lead to the overexploitation of marine resources. This would mean a decline in the fish supply (mainly tuna) and, eventually, a depletion of fish stocks, which would undermine fiscal sustainability. Finally, the intrinsic volatility of revenue from fishing license fees poses a challenge for fiscal policy.2

Mr. Douglas A. Scott and Mr. Christopher Browne

Abstract

The Pacific region was settled thousands of years ago, predominantly by Melanesian people in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu; Micronesians in Kiribati; both Melanesians and Micronesians in Fiji; and Polynesians in Tonga and Western Samoa. Most of the inhabitants resided in closely knit coastal communities, which were governed by powerful local chiefs. Fertile soil, except on coral atolls, and plentiful fish enabled living standards to be kept above subsistence levels in these economies. An ample diet, in terms of calories and protein, and a generally equable climate contributed to relatively long life expectancy. Explorers from Spain and Portugal in the sixteenth century, from the Netherlands in the seventeenth century, and from the United Kingdom in the eighteenth century were primarily interested in trade in precious metals and spices. Except for the spread of diseases, against which local inhabitants lacked immunity, the life of the region was unaffected by these contacts.

Mr. Douglas A. Scott and Mr. Christopher Browne

Abstract

Fiji covers a land area of 18,000 square kilometers in the South Pacific, midway between Hawaii and Australia. The country is made up of about 400 islands, of which the two largest comprise 90 percent of the total area and population. Owing to its volcanic origin, about four fifths of the land is mountainous and unsuitable for cultivation, but contains forests, mineral resources, and hydroelectric potential. Agricultural land is fertile with plentiful rainfall, although it is subject to drought and cyclones.

Mr. Douglas A. Scott and Mr. Christopher Browne

Abstract

The Republic of Kiribati consists of 33 islands, with a land area of 726 square kilometers, widely scattered over the Central Pacific Ocean on both sides of the equator and the international dateline. The population of 66,000 is 98 percent Micronesian. The Gilbert group, where nearly all of the population resides, is a chain of 16 islands extending for 700 kilometers in a northwesterly to southeasterly direction. The Phoenix group is 1,600 kilometers to the east and is presently uninhabited. The Line group is 3,000 kilometers to the east and only the three northern islands are inhabited. Although the land mass is very small, the 200-mile economic zone around the islands covers an area of more than 3 million square kilometers, a much larger share of the ocean than enjoyed by any other country in the region.

Mr. Douglas A. Scott and Mr. Christopher Browne

Abstract

Papua New Guinea comprises the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and several hundred islands to the east and north. The land area is 463,000 square kilometers and the population of 3.6 million is largely Melanesian. Resources include plentiful arable land, extensive forests, rich mineral deposits, and hydroelectric potential. However, much of the terrain is mountainous, which makes travel and communications difficult. The population density is only eight persons per square kilometer and substantial areas of the interior remain unexplored. There are some 700 local languages, and allegiances are closely tied to villages. While social obligations differ among kinship groups, most land is communally owned and members assist others in need. For many inhabitants, contact with the modern world is recent and access to health, education, and other social facilities remains limited. Life expectancy is 52 years and poverty is more pronounced than in other Pacific island countries.

Mr. Douglas A. Scott and Mr. Christopher Browne

Abstract

Solomon Islands is a scattered archipelago with a land area of 28,000 square kilometers that stretches across 1,500 kilometers of the South Pacific Ocean. The six main islands, which range up to 200 kilometers in length and 50 kilometers in width, account for 80 percent of the total area. Most of the islands are characterized by precipitous mountain ranges covered with dense tropical forest and intersected by deep and narrow valleys. Rivers are generally narrow and unnavigable, and the coasts are surrounded by extensive coral reefs and lagoons. Rainfall is heavy, and cyclones periodically cause considerable damage to settlements and crops.