Tonga - Future trends

The late 1990s was a period of economic stagnation by some indicators. Primary exports in agriculture, forestry, and fishing had declined as a result of drought, hurricane damage and unstable world prices. However, the balance of payments was still positive as a result of some growth in services and a steady flow of remittances. Both the private and public sectors have been making an ongoing attempt to identify niche markets for Tongan enterprise, ranging from the export of new agricultural products such as the vaguely narcotic but reputedly therapeutic kava, to the acquisition of a number of satellite television bands, which Tonga has successfully leased. Despite a relative lack of resources, there is some optimism for the future based on the high educational levels of Tonga's population and the international networks established by Tongan migrants. At the same time, there will be ongoing pressure to further democratize Tonga's political system. In the long term, the monarchy may survive, accompanied by a more democratic Parliament, although such a change is not likely to have a significant economic impact, other than perhaps allowing a more equitable distribution of wealth.

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