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TRADE

WEAVING WEALTH

Throughout the Pacific women produce and own various woven items - from fine woven mats, to everyday use mats, banana leaf bundles and skirts.

Mats and bark cloth are used in exchange and are considered women's wealth.

In Tonga textiles known as koloa, and in particular fine woven mats called ngatu are considered important objects that are used in ceremonial life and help define one's position in the community.

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UNIQUE SHELL TRADE

Marine resources are the largest trading assets for many small Pacific nations.

The trochus is a marine snail with a large, conical shell that is prized by jewellers the world over.

Trochus are fished largely for their shell and exported for fashion jewellery, accessories and mother-of-pearl buttons. About 60 per cent of the global trochus harvest comes from the Pacific Islands. Japan and Asia are replacing Europe as the market destinations for many Pacific goods.

There is a large illegal trade in Trochus shell which has the potential to severely affect this marine population.

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SUSHI BARS

One third of all tuna landed in the world comes from the Pacific Ocean. The catch is split 60% for canned tuna and 40% for the sushi/sashimi market.

The tuna fish caught in the Pacific averages about US$2 billion per annum yet Pacific Island nations secure only a fraction of the worth of this export as income.

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PUMPKIN POWER

Tonga has enjoyed a pumpkin-led boom in recent years with massive exports of pumpkins to the profitable Japanese export market.

Squash pumpkins have now outstripped the export of bananas and copra as Tonga's most important agricultural export.

Kava and vanilla are other items of trade from Tonga.

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BLACK PEARL

The Pacific has long been one of the world's main sources of pearls.

Although natural pearls are still collected by divers, most of the Pacific pearls are now grown artificially in specially farmed oysters.

The Black Lip Tahitian pearl forms the basis of the cultured pearl industry in French Polynesia.

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CLAY POTS AND MONEY SHELLS

In the ritualised Kula trade in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Trobriand Island men went on long ocean voyages to exchange shell money and set up trade partners around a network of distant islands. The currency of shells in the PNG highlands was based on elaborate trading routes winding up from the coast.

The seasonal trade of clay pots for sago was an important traditional exchange along the south Papuan coastline.

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WORLD'S LARGEST COPPER AND GOLD MINE

The USA-owned Freeport mine is the largest gold mine in the world and the world's second largest copper mine.

It accounts for over 50 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of Papua.

The open cut operations span more than 2.5 kilometres in width and 700,000 tons of rocks are removed from the mine every day.

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LOSING NEMO

The popularity of the film Finding Nemo has led to a rise in the export trade of tropical fish to the USA and Australia.

The United Nations Environmental Program estimates that globally, 20 million tropical fish worth nearly A$500 million are now caught each year.

Stocks of tropical fish are being seriously depleted, and foreign-based companies offer little return to countries like Vanuatu.

For each exotic fish sold in Australia for A$80, the Vanuatu government receives approximately 24 cents.

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PEARL SHELL MONEY

The currency of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is made up of Kina (keena) and toea (toya) with 100 toea equal to one Kina.

The Kina was introduced on 19 April 1975 at the time of independence from Australia.

The Kina replaced the Australian Dollar and the toea replaced the Australian cent. The Kina was so named because in Tok Pisin (neo-Melanesian) and in the Kuanua language it referred to the valuable pearl shell used widely in the Highlands as traditional money. Toea, a Motu word meaning valuable arm-shell, has a wide traditional use in Coastal Papua for trading and bride price payments. The Port Moresby Stock Exchange became fully operational in 1999.

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COPPER MOUNTAIN

In 1964 there was a major copper discovery at Panguna in Bougainville, and a mine was established by Bougainville Copper Limited.

Between 1972 and the mine's closure 17 years later it produced 45% of Papua New Guinea's export earnings.

During the peak of the mine's operations there were 10,000 'foreign' workers in Bougainville, the majority from the PNG mainland.

The mine has not reopened.

For Digital Resources on Bougainville click here
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