Economies in the Pacific are projected to grow collectively by 3.3% in 2023 and 2.8% in 2024 as the subregion continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest issue of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Pacific Economic Monitor (PEM) launched recently.
In Papua New Guinea (PNG), the subregion’s largest economy, increased output outside the resource sector will underpin economic activity. Some tourism-driven economies, such as the Cook Islands and Samoa, will benefit from the lifting of pandemic travel restrictions along with increased public investment spending. Fiji is also expected to grow, albeit at a more modest pace, due to increasing tourism competition from other destinations.
“The lifting of the last pandemic mobility restrictions has enabled economic activity, such as tourism and implementation of public infrastructure projects, to resume in earnest,” said ADB Director General for the Pacific Leah Gutierrez. “The outlook for the Pacific is subject to downside risks, such as sensitivity to international commodity prices and longstanding vulnerability to disasters, but ADB continues to work closely with government counterparts across the Pacific to help mitigate these risks, restore development gains, and support inclusive, sustainable growth in the subregion.”
Other short-term downside risks to the Pacific’s outlook include uncertainties around the resumption of stalled public investment projects and the uneven recovery of the crucial tourism sector, exacerbated by possible economic scarring from the pandemic.
The latest PEM explores the development impact of the pandemic and challenges to recovery and fiscal sustainability. It examines efforts in the Cook Islands, Fiji, and PNG to address fiscal risks and support sustainable recovery; studies debt management in Nauru amid the pandemic and emerging fuel cost issues in Niue; and assesses the economic costs of and responses to the disasters that struck Vanuatu in 2023. Other articles provide updates on post-pandemic tourism in Samoa and Tonga, explore new growth engines for Kiribati, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu, and outline how to offset pandemic-induced social and economic losses in the North Pacific.
Topical policy briefs in the PEM highlight key findings from two ADB-supported reports, Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Pacific Region and Finding Balance 2023: Benchmarking Performance and Building Climate Resilience in Pacific State-Owned Enterprises, while presenting efforts in Solomon Islands to meet local demand for wood products as log exports slowed.
The PEM is ADB’s biannual review of economic developments and policy issues in ADB’s 14 developing member countries in the Pacific. In combination with the Asian Development Outlook (ADO) series, ADB provides quarterly reports on economic trends and policy developments in the Pacific.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.