The Government of Samoa, reaping the benefits of a decade of sound fiscal management, was able to borrow money to finance reconstruction, without endangering long-term economic stability.
At least that is how we are trying to rationalise how the Australian tourist market now. There is very little traffic coming in from the Northern American and European markets, leaving the tourism sector very narrowly based.In terms of challenges, I think it’s really in the external sector. And what’s even more remarkable about all of this is the context in which reconstruction occurred. So, this is an issue that will become more worrying in the years to come.
We hope that maybe by the end of this year we will be able to get back to the 2008 economic situation. It made major strides in the early part of the 2000s and then the Global Financial Crisis happened, and we also had the tsunami in 2009.
And the tsunami struck exactly when Samoa was already facing the full force of the global economic crisis.Reliant on remittances and tourism, the economy of Samoa shrunk by 5.2 percent in 2009, as things got tougher in sending countries, and the nation’s only major manufacturer—an automotive components plant—laid off more than 1,550 workers. It made major strides in the early part of the 2000s and then the Global Financial Crisis happened, and we also had the tsunami in 2009. Those are the two key events that have really given a huge shock to the economy in Samoa. So I think it is with the external sector where I think there will be more vulnerability within the Samoan economy. A new addition to the recently-rebuilt honeymoon suite, right on top of the water, and offering 180 degree views over a majestic, perfect seascape. While over recent decades it has achieved some of the most impressive gains in social indicators of any country in the Pacific, it is still listed as a Least Developed Country. Samoa is still a poor country, with per capita income of around US$2,840. Learn how the World Bank Group is helping countries with COVID-19 (coronavirus).Since then, the Government of Samoa, in close cooperation with the international community, has worked at blistering pace to manage the social and economic impacts of the disaster.
Even with its domestic borrowing, the government has shifted loans onto the non-banks, borrowing from the provident funds and pension funds, types of borrowing that could be considered non-inflationary. At the time when we entered into a low cost airline agreement with the Virgin Group we thought we were on to a very good plan because all of a sudden a lot of Australians were heading to Samoa. As long as there are no hedging arrangements put in place there is some major exposure there, not just for Samoa but for most countries in the Pacific that have taken advantage of highly concessionary loans from China.What has gone wrong with tourism? The Samoan economy has cooled down a lot in the last three years. But then, when you look into the details and the net present value, the debt is actually at about 45% because the bulk of our external debt are on concessionary terms. On an idyllic Monday night in 2009, the palm-lined coasts of the American Samoa, Samoa, and Tonga Islands looked peaceful and serene. The Devpolicy Blog is based at the Development Policy Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, in The Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific. With the assistance of donors, Samoa’s many motivated and talented leaders and public servants managed to build back stronger than ever. The resort is soon to open again, much of it reconstructed from scratch.
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