Smells Like Team Spirit

[Originally published in the Vanuatu Daily Post’s Weekender Edition.]

When I learned of the release of this year’s Pacific Economic Survey, I was excited. I shouldn’t have been. The contrast between the 2008 report and this year’s could not be stronger. How could something so promising have fallen so far so fast?

When a player fails, you blame the player. When a team fails, you blame the coach.

Produced by the Australian government, the Survey looks at economic trends across the region and maps them to major development issues. Or, at least, that’s the game plan.

The 2008 report provided timely and useful assessments of telecoms and transport sector liberalisation. It was an enlightening document that validated some of Vanuatu’s key policies as well as providing analysis concerning future trends. I found it useful enough that I wrote about it or referenced it 7 times over the course of the year.

This year, I expect to write about the survey just this once. The 2009 report seems to be animated primarily by the Australian government’s desire to see a regional free trade agreement. The Survey sacrifices common sense and ignores its own data in its quest to glorify liberal trade policies that simply do not fit with the economic realities in Vanuatu today.

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