American Samoa’s GDP plummeted in 2017 — fewer jobs available
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — American Samoa’s estimated gross domestic product (GDP) decreased by more than 5% in 2017, according to data released more than a week ago by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the US Department of Commerce.
“Tuna canning industry exports declined significantly,” declared the BEA in a national news release.
The decline in GDP was mentioned by Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, during his special remarks at last Friday’s Workforce Day celebration at the Veteran Memorial Stadium, saying such a decline in the economy, means fewer jobs.
According to the BEA, the estimates of GDP for American Samoa show that real GDP — GDP adjusted to remove price changes — decreased 5.3% in 2017 after decreasing 2.7% in 2016.
“For comparison, real GDP for the United States — excluding the territories — increased 2.2% in 2017 after increasing 1.6% in 2016,” the federal agency said on Aug. 24 in releasing American Samoa’s GDP.
The BEA data shows that American Samoa’s GDP in 2016 was $653 million (a revised estimate from the $658 million which was initially reported by the BEA last August) and $634 million in 2017.
The BEA explained that the decline in the American Samoa economy reflected decreases in exports of goods and government spending. And these decreases were partly offset by a decrease in imports of goods, which is a subtraction item in the calculation of the GDP.
“Exports of goods decreased 22.8% primarily due to a decrease in exports of canned tuna and related products,” said the BEA, noting that “one of the two local canneries closed in December 2016” — referring to Samoa Tuna Processors Inc.
For government spending, the BEA says it also decreased, reflecting a continued decline in investment spending by the territorial government. BEA noted two major infrastructure projects which were to be completed by the end of 2016 and that’s the Satala Power Plant and the Ta'u solar micro-grid. (Samoa News notes that both projects are completed).
Speaking at the Workforce Day celebration, Lolo said that these days, there are many challenges and difficulties faced by world governments, where economies have declined and this is the same for American Samoa.
He noted a recent report from US economic experts that shows the decline in the local economy which is attributed to global decisions, over which American Samoa has no control or say.
While the governor didn’t identify the US experts, he did note that one of the two canneries closed in 2016 causing a major impact on the economy. And that report by a US economic expert shows a drop in the economy by 5.3% in 2017 and 2.3% in 2016.
According to the governor, these numbers mean a reduction of jobs in American Samoa. He said now is the time for the territory’s workforce to focus on improving the services they provide to the community.
OTHER BEA INFORMATION
Released along with the estimated GDP in 2017, are the estimates of GDP by industry and compensation by industry for 2016, as well as the revised total GDP for 2015 and 2016. These estimates were developed under the Statistical Improvement Program funded by the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Moving forward, an agreement between the OIA and BEA will extend and improve the estimates of GDP for American Samoa. Additionally, information provided by the American Samoa Government will continue to be critical to the successful production of these estimates. The BEA currently plans to release GDP estimates for 2018 beginning in the summer of 2019. GDP by industry and compensation by industry estimates for 2017 will also be released at the same time. You can access BEA data and information online: <www.bea.gov>