According new statistics released by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, China’s exports to the Forum Island Countries doubled from US$2.5 billion in 2014 to US$5 billion in 2015.

That figure included “some significant sales of maritime vessels to help build the fishing and other industries of the Pacific,” says the forum’s economic development agency, Pacific Islands Trade & Invest (PT&I).

PT&I Trade Commissioner in China David Morris welcomed the increase in investment but cautioned the Pacific’s “pristine environment” should not be exploited.

“For the Pacific fishery, as well as for other resources such as timber, sustainability is critical and China and the Pacific Island Countries can benefit in the long term if we work together to protect the precious environment and resources of the Pacific,” Morris says.

“The very reason that the region is able to supply high-quality seafood, other foods and beverages, such as the famous Fiji Water, is the pristine environment of the Pacific.”

Exports to China from 14 Pacific Island nations lifted 25 percent from US$2 billion in 2014 to US$2.5 billion in 2015. Resource-rich Papua New Guinea, which is the largest Pacific Island economy, accounted for nearly US$2 billion of all Pacific exports to China, on the back of the timber, minerals and gas sectors. Outside of PNG, fish and fish products accounted for a significant proportion of the exports to China.

According to Greenpeace, bluefin and bigeye tuna are in “serious trouble” with stocks hitting record lows in recent years. In addition to overfishing, the organization has raised concerns about other illegal fishing practices and the widespread mistreatment of fishing industry workers. An in-depth report by National Geographic published this week highlights major issues facing the fishery in the South China Sea.

PT&I notes that the lift in trade between China and the Pacific has come amid slowing growth in China and trade globally.

Pacific Island Forum countries include the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

First Editor: J. Michael Cole
Second Editor: Olivia Yang