Like other Pacific Island economies, Samoa faces constraints imposed by a small domestic market, remoteness from international markets, high transportation costs, weak physical infrastructure, a lean business climate, narrow resource bases and capacity limitations. Along with these challenges, it is also susceptible to climate change and natural disasters and global crises.
The economy is also highly exposed to external global conditions, adverse weather, natural disasters and crop disease—factors that are beyond its control. The balance of payments, for example, relies heavily on the continued inflow of private remittances, official grants and international tourism receipts. The impact of natural disasters in the past 10 years has put significant strain on budgetary resources as well as extensive damage to local food production. These demonstrate the degree of vulnerability the Samoan economy continues to face.
Samoa has combated these inherent limitations through political stability and prudent, decisive policy action based around major economic and public sector reforms. With macroeconomic and fiscal stability as the driving objectives, major public finance reform initiatives have been put in place to strengthen economic resilience. On the social front, major investments have been directed at education and health development, resulting in relatively high human development indicators that are well above the small states and middle income countries average rating. However, the country does have a gender inequality index of 0.457 ranking it 97 out of 155 countries.
Samoa’s economic performance over the past 15 years is characterized by instability and low rates of growth. With a peak of over eight percent growth rate in 2004/05 and a low of -6.4 percent in 2008/09, this demonstrates the volatility experienced as a result of a combination of factors including fluctuations in the global market, natural disasters and the ensuing recovery works, as well as domestic imbalances.
Debt to GDP has risen above threshold levels over the years and is currently at 55 percent of GDP. The need to increase spending (and subsequently debt) was to rebuild infrastructure following the crises and, more recently, to modernize key infrastructure at the airport and ports. Fiscal consolidation and structural reforms have ensured that macroeconomic stability is maintained.
Overall, the key growth drivers in the last five years were tourism related activities, international meetings and sporting events hosted locally, infrastructural developments and recovery works following natural disasters. A notable achievement for Samoa was graduating to the middle income country status in 2014.
Samoa was the first Small Island Developing State and among the first group of countries that volunteered to present their national review (VNR) on implementation of SDGs at the 2016 High Level Political Forum (HLPF). It will present its second report to the HLPF in 2020. The key national development priorities are highlighted in its Samoa Development Strategy (SDS) 2016-2020, with the theme of “Accelerating sustainable development and broadening opportunities for all.” The SDS identifies 14 priority outcomes and outlines the programs and actions to be implemented to achieve these priority outcomes.
The sector plans are an important resource for key partners with the government in progressing towards the strategic outcomes we have committed to in the SDS. Importantly, we will link our annual and multi-year budgets to the strategic outcomes of the SDS. This will ensure that what we do is affordable as a nation and what we commit to each year in the budget process is keeping us on the path towards reaching the SDS outcomes
Samoa will continue to use its national sustainable development strategy and the resultant sector level plans to implement the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, the SAMOA Pathway, the Paris Agreement, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, the Pacific Sustainable Development Strategy and all other global and regional agreements and frameworks the country is a party to. Likewise, Samoa has opted to use the SDS to implement its smooth transition strategy following graduation out of LDC status. Assessment has shown the SDS strategy aligns with the SDG targets.
The following cover priority areas for Samoa with responsibilities that cut across several different ministries and sectors of government. Highlighted are the key ministries involved but are by no means the only ones with responsibility on these priority issues. The main point of contact for additional information is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is:
Ms Peseta Noumea Simi
CEO for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Chair for the SDG Taskforce and SIDS National Focal Point
- Climate change – Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
- Sustainable development – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade