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Mr. Serkan Arslanalp, Mr. Robin Koepke, and Jasper Verschuur
This paper proposes an easy-to-follow approach to track merchandise trade using vessel data and applies it to Pacific island countries. Pacific islands rely heavily on imports and maritime transport for trade. They are also highly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters that pose risks to ports and supply chains. Using satellite-based vessel tracking data from the UN Global Platform, we construct daily indicators of port and trade activity for Pacific island countries. The algorithm significantly advances estimation techniques of previous studies, particularly by employing ways to overcome challenges with the estimation of cargo payloads, using detailed information on shipping liner schedules to validate port calls, and applying country-specific information to define port boundaries. The approach can complement and help fill gaps in official data, provide early warning signs of turning points in economic activity, and assist policymakers and international organizations to monitor and provide timely responses to shocks (e.g., COVID-19).
Vybhavi Balasundharam, Ms. Leni Hunter, Iulai Lavea, and Mr. Paul G Seeds
Pacific island countries (PICs) rely on national airlines for connectivity, trade, and tourism. These airlines are being struck hard by COVID-19. Losses will weigh on public sector balance sheets and pose risks to economic recovery. With a backdrop of tight fiscal space and increasing government debt, losses in airlines are adding to fiscal risks in some PICs. This paper discusses tools to evaluate and manage the fiscal risks from national airlines in the Pacific. We present a snapshot of the current state of Public Financial Management (PFM) practices in PICs and detail the best practices. This exercise would illustrate the areas in which PICs have scope to improve their risk management with regard to national airlines. We then discuss the use of diagnostic tools and capacity development to enhance monitoring and risk management. Greater transparency and accountability in the airlines, combined with rigorous oversight, would be the first step towards improved financial management of national airlines.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Samoa has shown resilience to past economic shocks, underpinned by the authorities’ strong commitment to support the economy and financial assistance provided by the international community. Samoa was among the first countries in the world to secure its border to protect its citizens from COVID-19. The authorities’ quick response to the measles outbreak and the global pandemic has identified the policy priorities well. The international community also responded swiftly, including the IMF disbursement under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) in April 2020 which helped unlock record budget support grants by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank (WB). The authorities strengthened the health care system and provided support to the private sector, with assistance targeted to vulnerable businesses and households to safeguard livelihoods.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This paper discusses Samoa’s Request for Disbursement Under the Rapid Credit Facility. Samoa has shown resilience to multiple past economic shocks, underpinned by the authorities’ strong commitment to support the economy, and financial assistance provided by the international community. The global coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has exacerbated the impact of the measles outbreak of late-2019 on Samoa’s economy. The border closure, combined with a sudden stop of tourist arrivals and decline in remittances, has led to a precipitous fall in two vital sources of foreign earnings and resulted in an urgent balance of payments need. Beyond the immediate response, the authorities will continue to implement structural reforms, with policies appropriately balanced between safeguarding debt sustainability and promoting economic growth. They also need to continue their efforts to enhance spending efficiency, strengthen social protection programs and safety nets, further improve tax administration, strengthen public financial management, and safeguard financial stability. Addressing vulnerability to climate change remains a key medium-term challenge to create a fiscal buffer.