Agriculture plays an important role in the South Pacific, but consumerism is catching up through mostly towns and cities. Also, there is a growing gap in the towns and cities between the growing government-working middle class and the majority of people living in the villages even though education has aroused expectations that the island economies are unable to fill.
The islands economies are tourism, agriculture, and mining. One would think that the oceans would hold the answers, but many of the island reefs are already over-harvested, and the local villagers do not have the resources to fish the open seas. The value of agricultural exports continues to decline while the costs of manufacturing goods increase yearly. Products such as sugar, cacao, bananas, taro, pineapples, coffee, and vanilla are subject to price fluctuations that local governments cannot control since most of the islands are split into micro-holdings, which makes efficient management difficult. Many Pacific Islanders are dependent on outside aid, some from a single donor, creating political pressures known as checkbook diplomacy. Thus, Australia and New Zealand have huge trade surpluses compared to the other islands, selling three times as much as they buy.
Cite for September Posts: Stanley, D., South Pacific Handbook.