Islands and Small States Seminar
The Commonwealth Secretariat in collaboration with the Islands and Small States Institute and the Economics Department of the University of Malta will be organizing an international workshop on economic vulnerability and resilience building of small states, at the University Gozo Centre, on 1,2 3 March 2004
Experts from the Caribbean, Pacific, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean region will participate. Representatives of UNDP, UNCTAD, UNDESA, the Commonwealth Secretariat and other international organization will also attend.
The economic characteristics of small states are well documented, and include limited ability to exploit economies of scale; lack of natural resource endowments and high import content (especially of strategic imports such as food and fuel). Other characteristics relate to limitations of diversification possibilities and market thinness; limitations on the extent to which domestic competition policy can be applied; dependence on a narrow range of exports; inability to influence international prices; and in the case of island states, uncertainties of supply due to remoteness and insularity.
Small size also creates problems associated with public administration, the most important of which is probably the small manpower resource base from which to draw experienced and efficient administrators.
The Workshop will focus on those features which lead to inherent economic vulnerability of small states. Such vulnerability arises from the fact that the economies of small states are, to a large extent, shaped by forces outside the states’ control, mostly due to their high degrees of economic openness and export concentration, and high dependence on strategic imports.
The Workshop will also deal with the issue of economic resilience-building to enable small states to cope with or withstand economic vulnerability. There will be discussions as to how small states have in fact taken steps to strengthen their resilience, and what needs to be done for further resilience-building.
The Workshop will also discuss methods of measuring and creating indices for economic vulnerability and resilience. The vulnerability indices produced so far, including those developed by the Professor Lino Briguglio of the University of Malta, indicate that Small Island Developing States, as a group, tend to be more economically vulnerable than other groups of countries. The work carried out by the Economics Department of the University of Malta also indicates that many small states, such as Singapore, Malta, Cyprus, Mauritius and Barbados, have a relatively high GDP per capita, when compared to the developing word, indicating that these have taken measures to strengthen their resilience against economic vulnerability.