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China is region’s largest trading partner

China is the largest trading partner of Pacific Islands Forum (P.I.F.) member countries, excluding Australia and New Zealand, with its total trade goods for 2017 amounting to $8.2 billion. 

This is according to a staff research report published by the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission on June 14, 2018 titled “China’s Engagement in the Pacific Islands: Implications for the United States”. 

The report said the amount surpasses South Korea’s $8 billion, Australia’s $5 billion and the United States $1.6 billion total trade goods to the P.I.F. member countries.  

P.I.F. member countries include Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Australia and New Zealand. 

China’s total trade with Samoa for 2017, the report said, was to the tune of US$66 million (T$25.3m) for 2017.    

According to the report, China’s total trade with Pacific Island Countries has increased rapidly over the past decade, which was boosted by President Xi Jinping to the region in 2014. 

The high-level visit “saw the largest year-on-year increase in total trade over this period, growing 63 percent largely due to a sharp boost in Chinese exports,” said the report. 

“In 2017, China’s exports to Pacific Islands Forum countries reached $4.7 billion, up from $2.7 billion in 2014. Chinese imports from Pacific Islands Forum countries totaled $3.5 billion, up from $2.3 billion in 2014.

“China’s top export destinations in the Pacific Islands are the Marshall Islands (mostly passenger and cargo ships), Papua New Guinea (broadcasting, equipment, iron, rubber and prefabricated buildings), and Fiji (seafood, delivery trucks and rubber). 

“China’s imports from the region consist mostly of raw materials and minerals. Beijing’s top sources of imports in the region are Papua New Guinea (petroleum, rough wood, and nickel mattes), New Caledonia (ferroalloys and nickel mattes), and the Solomon Islands (rough wood).” 

According to the report, China’s involvement in the Pacific has noticeably accelerated since President Xi took office in 2013. 

“An examination of trade, investment, aid and tourism shows that China is becoming one of the dominant economic players in the region, well ahead of the United States,” the report further stated. 

“Given the rapid growth in Chinese activity in all four categories of economic engagement over the past decade, this trend is likely to continue in the years ahead, bringing economic and security implications for the United States and its allies and partners in the region.” 

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