Oceania Economics and Business


Australia and New Zealand have a standard of living at European level, very high employment in the service sector and a relatively well-developed industry. Prosperity is strongly dependent on exports of agricultural products, minerals and energy raw materials. In the rest of Oceania, it is common for the majority of the population to live on agriculture, fishing and crafts. However, tourism, military installations, aid or commodity exports provide most of the revenue. The service sector often accounts for a large part of employment (in the monetary economy), while the industry is poorly developed. The export-dependent countries in Oceania are very sensitive to world market price and economic fluctuations.

Country GDP growth (percent) GDP per person (US dollar)
Australia 1.9 (2019) 57 305 (2018)
Fiji 1.1 (2019) 6 202 (2018)
Kiribati 2.2 (2019) 1 625 (2018)
Marshall Islands 3.6 (2018) 3 621 (2018)
Micronesia Federation 0.2 (2018) 3,058 (2018)
Nauru 0.0 (2019) 9 030 (2018)
New Zealand 2.2 (2019) 41 966 (2018)
Palau 1.7 (2018) 17 318 (2018)
Papua New Guinea 5.6 (2019) 2 723 (2018)
Solomon Islands 2.7 (2019) 2 163 (2018)
Samoa 3.5 (2019) 4 392 (2018)
Tonga 0.3 (2018) 4 364 (2018)
Tuvalu 9.8 (2019) 3 701 (2018)
Vanuatu 2.9 (2019) 3,033 (2018)


Agriculture in Oceania is a very important industry, but in most of the island groups the agricultural area constitutes a limited part of the area, and there is not often a shortage of cultivable land. In Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, a large part of the population is supported by self-sustaining agriculture, but plantation is also common. Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are among the world’s leading exporters of copra. Several states and territories (Kiribati, New Caledonia and Tonga) have extensive food imports. In Australia and New Zealand, agriculture accounts for a significant portion of the country’s exports, but only for a minor part of employment. Traditionally, breeding of sheep and cattle dominates; both countries are among the world’s leading exporters of wool, beef and lamb. Agriculture is varied and highly mechanized. For the most part it is fairly extensive on large areas, but there is also intensive and occasionally irrigated cultivation of fruit, wine and vegetables. Australia is one of the world’s leading exporters of cotton, cereals and sugar, and New Zealand has an extensive export of fruits and vegetables.


10 percent of Oceania’s land area is forest land, but only New Zealand has a developed rational forestry and a significant forest industry. Forestry is relatively more important in Melanesia. The large forests in eastern New Guinea’s hinterland have so far been left fairly untouched, and Papua New Guinea has a moderate timber production relative to its neighboring countries compared to its neighboring countries. Despite the large forest resources, forestry in Australia is fairly undeveloped and a lot of wood products and pulp are imported.


Fishing is one of the traditional main industries in Oceania, but only New Zealand belongs to the world’s largest fishing nations. Fishing in Australia is of marginal importance, and much of the fishing in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia is conducted for housing needs outside the monetary economy. However, fish is an important export commodity for Fiji, Solomon Islands and Kiribati. Pearl fishing is of great importance in French Polynesia. Through the establishment of economic zones, many island states have huge territorial and fishing waters, but few have any more significant high sea fishing. Many states lease fishing waters to fishing companies from Japan, South Korea and the United States.


Australia and Melanesia have rich mineral resources and large exports. By comparison, New Zealand, Micronesia and Polynesia are mineral-poor despite some phosphate and bauxite assets. Many islands and atolls have been completely emptied of their phosphate and guano resources. Australia is one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of ores such as bauxite, iron, silver, lead, copper, manganese and zinc ores. New Caledonia is the world’s second largest producer of cobalt and the third largest of nickel. In Papua New Guinea, the production and export of copper, bauxite, gold and silver is of great and rapidly growing importance. Gold is one of Fiji’s main export goods. In the Solomon Islands, deposits of phosphate, bauxite, gold and silver are extracted.


In Australia and New Zealand, energy consumption per inhabitant is on a par with Western Europe. Large proprietary fossil fuel deposits are available. Australia has large exports of and one of the world’s largest reserves of both coal and lignite. The country also has significant amounts of oil and gas. Also in New Zealand, the extraction of coal, lignite, oil and gas covers most of the domestic need. Electricity production, which per inhabitant is about half as large as the Swedish one, is dominated in Australia by coal-fired thermal power plants, while the water component accounts for about 3/4 in New Zealand. In other parts of Oceania, which are completely referred to imports, energy consumption is generally low. Oil is often the dominant import commodity. In Melanesia there is some access to water energy, which in many places is still unused.


In Australia and New Zealand, the industry is fairly varied and accounts for about 1/4 of employment. Australia has a large steel and engineering industry. Other significant industrial sectors are oil refining, food, electronics, chemistry and metallurgy. However, in relation to the extent of mining operations, metal processing is poorly developed, and it is really only aluminum production that is significant. According to Countryaah, New Zealand’s main industrial products are iron and steel, food, wood and paper products, textiles and aluminum. Unlike the agriculture and mining sectors, the Australian and New Zealand industries are mainly focused on the domestic market. In the rest of Oceania, the industry is small and limited to the processing of raw materials from agriculture and fishing as well as to some extent from forestry and mining.

Cook Islands yearbook 2014

Cook Islands. Since the last parliamentary elections were held in November 2010, new elections would be held during the period November 2014 – February 2015. However, Prime Minister Henry Puna asked the Queen’s representative – Cook Islands are part of the Commonwealth and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II heads the state – to dissolve parliament in April and announce elections in July. Shortly after the decision, the Minister of Education and Tourism, Teina Bishop, resigned. He also left the Cook Islands Party Party (CIP) and formed the Party Cook Islands Movement (OCI) instead.

Puna singled out Bishop as responsible for holding the election, but it was also pointed out that it was positive that the election would be decided and a state budget established well in advance of the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence in 1965. Opposition leader Wilkie Rasmussen criticized the government and said that Puna moved the election to avoid a vote of no confidence in Parliament.

In the July 9 parliamentary elections, CIP lost three seats but still retained its position as the country’s largest party. Of the Parliament’s 24 seats, 13 went to the CIP, while the country’s most important opposition party, the Democratic Party (DP) led by Rasmussen, received eight seats. OCI managed to get two seats. As the DP and CIP candidates received the same number of votes on the island of Mitiaro, re-election was held in this constituency in November, but the result was delayed since the CIP appealed the court decision that was the basis for the re-election.

Cook Islands yearbook 2013

Cook Islands. In June, the Cook Islands single-chamber parliament approved the budget for 2013/14, which was the largest in the history of the islands. Of the total budget of just under SEK 1.1 billion, approximately SEK 300 million was earmarked for infrastructure projects. In addition, there was an investment in increased salaries for healthcare staff and teachers as well as higher pensions. At the same time, taxes on soft drinks and tobacco were increased.

In July, Joanna Kempkers was appointed representative of the New Zealand Government in the Cook Islands. The islands have internal autonomy but have an agreement on free accession to New Zealand, which is responsible for their foreign and security policy.

Cook Islands yearbook 2012

Cook Islands. The Cook Islands and New Caledonia announced in August that they would together create the world’s largest marine reserve. The Pacific Ocean Marine Reserve will cover 2.5 million square miles, of which 1.1 million square miles belong to the Cook Islands. The area constitutes the world’s largest untouched ecosystem and hosts, for example, three-fifths of the world’s tuna. In some parts of the reserve, one should allow tourism, fishing and possibly the extraction of deep-sea minerals. But this is done with respect for the environment, according to Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna.

In December, the Cook Islands presented plans for yet another reserve, the world’s largest sanctuary for sharks. 1.9 million square kilometers of Cook Islands water will be allocated to the shark reserve, which will be adjacent to a shark reserve created by French Polynesia approximately at the same time. In total, the endangered sharks are protected in an area of the Pacific covering 6.7 million square miles, which is equivalent to almost all of Australia. About a third of the world’s marine animals are red listed.

Cook Islands yearbook 2011

Cook Islands. The island of Aitutaki was exposed to the first bank robbery in its history in August. The robbers received around the equivalent of around SEK 1 million, mainly the savings of 2,000 islanders. Police were allowed to fly in from the main island of Rarotonga to investigate the robbery.

Cook Islands yearbook 2010

The Cook Islands stood without effective government at the beginning of the year since Prime Minister Jim Marurai kicked off his finance minister before the turn of the year and several other ministers resigned in protest. Marurai was reported to have been excluded from the ruling Democratic Party, but refused to convene parliament, thereby avoiding a vote of no confidence. However, at a party conference in June, Marurai resumed after promising to resign after the fall election, regardless of the outcome.

In the November 17 elections, the Cook Islands party won with 16 of the 24 seats. Party leader Henry Puna became new prime minister. At the same time as the election, a referendum was held to reduce the number of MPs, but the proposal did not get the majority required.

Diplomat Linda Te Puni was appointed New Zealand’s representative in the autonomous area in June, since the representative passed away the year before.

In December, the Cook Islands’ first case of HIV infection was reported.

Oceania Economics and Business

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