Economics -- Oceania

Figure 1.--

Oceania is the smallest of the world's economic regions in terms of population. This is because it is largely composed of many small islands with limited populations. It covers a huge ocean area, but the land area of the islsnds is very small. There are two excrptions. Australia is a continent in itself, encoming a large area, but much of it is arid and the population small. The land aea of Infonesua exceeds that of all the rest of Oceania. The country is resource rich. The economy was largely sgricultural, but dince World War II has developoed a diversifuied modern economy. New XZealand is similar, although much smaller and better waterrd. Indonesia is a vast archepeligo with a huge population and enormous natural resources. Socialist, statist economic policies and corupt military rule impaired Indonesia's development, but since the Asian financial crisis (1997), major changes including free market reforms have stimulated economic growth. Also included in Oceania is Australia and New Zealand, two countries with important natural resources and productive capitalist economies. The Philippines, the other important archipelago, has not achieved the economic growth hoped for after independence. The region has benefitted by first Japanese post-World War II economic miracle and now Chinese economic growth. Both Japan and China have grown economically because of free market economic policies. The region has not experienced the phenomical growth of the Asian Tigers, but Infoinesiaa, Malaysia, and the OPhilippines have begun to report significant economic growth in recent years. Since World War II, most of the small island groups of the Central and South Pacific have emerged from cololonial trusteeship status to form independent nations. It is not yet clear if they are going to be able to develop successful, prosperous economies.


Australia in the early-21st century had one of the strongest economies in the world, but the country's economic future is unclear, although This is not fully understood in Australia or thevleft-wing mainline media. The country has one of the highest living standards in the world based on percapita income. High consumer and realestate priuces are often not considered in assessing living standards. Australia was one of the British Dominions and thus inherited both democreacy and capitalism from Britain. The primary sectors which propelled Australia into the modn world were first agricultural (grain and ranching) and minining (coal and iron). With those underpinings, Australia has develope a strong services sector whiuch is now the largest part of the economy, accounting for around three-quarters of gross domestic product and an even higher proportion of jobs. The industrial manufacrured sector, however, is realively small. Australia has an increasingly important and growing financial sector and a very sophisticated financial services sector. The country economy is aided by a strong legal system and the rule of law prorecting property rights. This has belped to create economic and financial ties to the the emerging economies of the Pacific abd East Asia. One economic assessment tells us, "Known as one of the great agricultural, mining and energy producers, Australia has one of the world's most open and varied economies, with a highly educated workforce and an extensive services sector. Australia's economy is considered one of the strongest, most stable and diverse in the world. In 2014, Australia entered its 23rd year of uninterrupted annual economic growth, averaging 3.4 per cent a year." Often not appreciated in assessments like this are the degree to which Australia' economy was fueld by the insatiable Chinese demand fro raw materiaks that Australia could privide. Now that Chinese growth is cooling off, the full impact on Australia is yet to be seen. The Australia dollar has fallen some 30 percent, but the economic impact is still unknown. Another factor is the socialist legislation, tax policies, and regultory regime pursued by the Labour policy which has tended to retard new business formation and entreprenurial nergies. The Australian welfare state is another burden on the private sector. Australia has been relatively prident in fiscal polifies. They have pared back the once extrodinrily generous welfare system in recent years. Unlike many other deveoped countries like America and Western Europe, Australia has maintained very respobsible fiscal polifies and as a result the country's debt burden is relatively small and sustainable.


The economy of what is now Indonesia has been primarily agricultural based. This has meant primarily paddy rice culture. This means connections with the peoples of Southeast Asia and China. We are not sure just when rice culture was introduced in Indonesia. But the production of an agriculture surplus drew traders to the islands and spices added to the attraction. At the conjunction of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, traders arrived including Arabs, Indians, Chinese, and others. They both traded for the agricultural abundance of the islands as well as setting up posts for trading activities beyond the islands. The early Indonesian kingdoms were established by these trading groups. Also with trade, religions were introfuced to the islands. Important pre-European kingdoms included: Srivijaya, Mataram, and Majapahit. [Reid] Much of the Chinese goods reaching the West passed through traders on the islands. Chinese traders for the most part did not sail into the Indian Ocean. Marine archeologists have found suken ships providing valuable insights into the nature of the pre-European trade. The Europeans arrived (16th century). The Portuguese were the first to arrive. The Dutch who would eventually seize control reached the islands (1596). The Spanish seized the Philippines to the north. The Europeans did not at first change the basic economy of the region, but it did change who was involved in the trade. The Europeans gradually expanded their hold on the islands, but for the most part through the 18th century were primarily concerned with trade and did not move mich beyond the various fortified trading posts. As a result the basic economy of the islands was little changed. European reports provide some information on their commercial activities, but vurtually nothing about the larger island economy which was subsistence agriculture and boh local and inter-island trade. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) became a major factor for two centuries (1602-1795), but even so had only a limited number of trading posts in the vast archipelago. The Dutch presemce was focused on Java. Agriculture was expanded to coffee and rice. The VOC seized power from the Javanese rulers and gradually expanded control over the Javanese economy and trading activity. The VOC, for example sold Bengal cotton in the spice (pepper was especially important) growing areas. Vast profits were reported until competition with the English and the French Revolution resulted in the demise of the VOC. [Gaastra 2002] The French occupied the Netherlands and the British with the powerful Royal Navy seized control of the islands and other Dutch possessions. After the Napoleonic Wars, the Dutch regained control of the islands (1814). And Gradually the Dutch expanded their colonial role. This included improving the infrastructure. The economy remained, however, almost entirely agricultural. The discovery of oil in the 20th century had widespread consequences. It made the DUtch East Indies a major target for the Japanese in the Pacific War (1941-45). The Japanese heavily exploited the islands, causing a horrific famine. The American submarine campaign by 1943 , however, prevented the Japanese from using thec resources tio support their war effort. The Dutch attempted to restablish control after the War, but were eventually forced to turn over control to nationalists led by ??? Sukarno. Like other leaders during the de-colonization era, Sukarno turned to socialist, statist enterrises. The result was economic faulure exacerbated by rampant corruption. This was little changed by subsequent military rule. The Asian economic crisis brought an end to military rule (1997). The resulting democratic givernment, free market reforms, and responsible public financial managemdnt has brought enormous economic progress.

New Zealand

New Zealand sinces its inseption as a British colony in the mid-19th century developed an agriculturl economy. The south pacific has aopular image as a tropical parasise. New Zealand is far enough south that the climate is rather like North america abd Western Europe. This men that immigrants had access to large areas of land that could be farmed and ranched as in the home country. From the very beginning New Zealand was dependent on trade. They could produce large qunities of agricultural products, but wuth a small population, it had to be exported. And the New Zealand unlike neighboring Australia was very well wattered, making it an agricultural pardise. Like Ausrraliam New Zealand proved to be a lucky country. At first only non perishable products could be exported, but advanced in refrigeration during the late-19th century began to make possible shipment of meat and diry products, significantly expabding exports. Trade was primarily with Britain. World War II was a turning point for New Zealand. It became obvious that New Zealand could not dependend on Britain for its security. Befinning in the Coral Sea, that was provided by America (1942). New Zealand's economic ties with Britain were also affected. Britain joined the European Common Market, the modern European Union (1975). This forced Britain to reorder its Commonwealth ties. This could have severeky impaired the New Zealand economy except again for the United States. Part of the American Cold War effort was to promote freedom arond the World. This included economic freedom. And while socialism was failing in country after country, capitalism was suceeding in one country after another, beginning in Japan and then the Asian Tigers followed by China and India. The result was the greatest explosion of wealth in human history. In little more than a generation , some 1 billion people were thrust from abject poverty to the prosperous middle class. Thus while export opportunities were closing in distant Europe, New Zealand was perfectly lovated to take advantage of rapidly expanding Asian markets. Since World War I, New Zealand led by the Labour Party gad been building a socialist welfare state. This was done in democratic context that also valued private propertyand property rights. Thus New Zealand Goverment pursued economoic policies that provided for a high degree of economic freedom. Only Hong Kong and Singapore have higher economic freedom rakings. And New Xealand Governments in contrast to the United states and Western Europe have proceeded prudent fiscal and monetary polocies. Thus despite a socialist wlfare state, New Zealand has created a favoralble environment for entrepreneurs. And since the rise of Asian economies, New Zealand has developed a strong tourist industry, a new manufactiring sector. Energy was a drag, but developing the country's geothermal potential and a decline in oil prices, again thanks to Anerica, has guven the economy a boost.

(The) Philippines

The Philippine Islands when acquired by the United States in the Spanish American War was a backwater of the decaying Spanish Empire and almost totally agricultural (1898). The United States oversaw a development effort. The United States built new public schools, transportation infrastructure, boutiques, offices and civic buildings. There was as a resulkt a raid growth of the economy. Agriculture remained the heart of the economy, but tourism and industry developed. Major crops included rice, corn, hemp, tobacco, coconuts, and abaca (a species of banana). Many other crops were grown in garden plots for family consumption. Coconuts were important for oil production. Forestry was also important. The Philippines had one of the world's great strands of commercial timber. The economy grew despite difficulties with various agrarian uprisings. The robust coconut industry was a major factor in the growing economy and taxes helped fund infrastructure and other development projects. The Philipino benefitted from a developing economy. The American Commonwealth unlike many countries and colonies was not terribly affected by the Great Depression. The Japanese World War II invasion and occupation (Decemnber 1941), however, did result in a serious recession. As in most Axis occupied countrues, productiion declined sharply. The Philippines before the War was laregely self sufficent in food, some foods were imported but were paid for by mostly agriculturl expots. Unlike sveral other areas of Southeast Asia/Ocenia, the Phillipines was not a major rice producer. Rice was an important crop, but even before the War, rice had to be imported. The economy was devestated by the War. Recovery was slow. Despite the Smerican connection. the Philippines was not ione od the Asian Tigers thar began to report raoid ecinomic growth in the post-War era. A major expoort has been lavor with Filipino woerkers acyive in several foireign countries. Some major improvements have been reported in recent years. ThePhilippines economy is the world's 34th largest economy by nominal GDP according in 2017 (IMF), the 13th largest economy in Asia, and the 3rd largest economy in the ASEAN after Indonesia and Thailand. The Philippines is an important emerging markets and is the sixth richest in Southeast Asia by GDP per capita values, after the regional countries of Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.


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Created: 3:19 AM 6/1/2018
Last updated: 3:19 AM 6/1/2018