The leeward side of fortune

By The Economist online

Life in Vanuatu is not all fruity cocktails

THE phrase “Pacific island” conjures images of white-sand beaches, turquoise seas and cocktails served in halved coconuts. Alas, the reality is not quite so blissful. Most of the countries of the Pacific are poor and poorly run. Their tiny size and remoteness are obstacles enough to prosperity. Now, thanks to global warming, they must also contend with rising seas and increasingly frequent and severe storms.

The biggest regional economies belong to the predominantly Melanesian countries closest to Asia: Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Timor-Leste (which considers itself both a Pacific and a South-East Asian country). Fiji’s leading export has long been sugar; sugar cane covers three-quarters of its arable land. But output is falling, and its future is uncertain: for years Fijian sugar has benefited from preferential access to the European Union, but that is scheduled to end next year. Competing on the open market against bigger producers with lower production and transport costs, such as Brazil and India, will be difficult. Fortunately, Fiji has a robust and growing tourism…

Read more here:: The Economist – Economics