National Centre for Development Studies, Australian National University
Place of publication
Canberra, A. C. T.
The Small Island Developing States (SIDS)1 in the Pacific, spread out over an area of 30 million square kilometres of ocean, and home to over 9 million people, face a complex and unique set of development challenges. As small, highly open economies they are particularly susceptible to external shocks, including fluctuations in import prices and export earnings in particular. Remoteness from major ports and export markets, low levels of connectivity with the outside world and susceptibility to natural hazards further complicate matters and have resulted in the Pacific islands being amongst the most vulnerable economies in the world. In spite of their increasing integration into global markets, most face further challenges owing to very limited absorptive capacities, limited resources, inadequate technology, lack of infrastructure and poor economic management and institutional capabilities. As a consequence, economic growth and related outcomes in most remain heavily reliant on external resources, typically including at least one of aid, migrant remittances, and foreign direct investment (FDI) (AusAID 2008 and McGillivray et al. 2008). The particular constraints and growth challenges of Pacific SIDS are too often overlooked in the development research literature. Moreover, the policy debate on how to promote and achieve growth in the Pacific islands can benefit from a deeper understanding of the nature and consequences of these often unique, combination of constraints. This Focus is devoted to development challenges facing these islands, specifically relating to the achievement of economic growth, and draws on five papers that were presented or tabled at the World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) ‘Fragility and Development’ research project meeting held in Fiji in December 2006.