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Abstract

We examine export performance and the factors influencing export growth in ten South Pacific countries, concentrating on the comparative influences of geographic endowments, policies and institutions. The countries under study are Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Only Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands experienced a positive trend in total commodity export values. Agricultural export values grew significantly only in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Most countries experienced growth in non-agricultural commodity export values, albeit from a low base. As a general rule, export performance was superior for countries with richer endowments of natural resources. Geographic factors associated with small size impeded export performance in small South Pacific countries, in particular. Evidence suggests that export performance was not improved by good policies unless those policies were properly implemented. To be satisfactorily implemented, they required soundly operating and effective institutions. Unfortunately, institutional performance deteriorated over the study period and was likely to have adversely affected export performance, particularly in the primary industries.

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