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Gross Domestic Product for the Marianas fell to US$1.323 billion in 2018, a 19.6 percent decrease from 2017.
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) made the announcement.
BEA Director Dr Brian Moyer is in the Marianas to go over his agency’s economic report with Governor Ralph Torres and U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan and work with local agencies that collect the underlying data.
Moyer was also in the Marianas just days before Super Typhoon Yutu hit last year to announce the 2017 GDP numbers. Gross Domestic Product for 2017 was $1.6 billion, an increase of 25.1 percent over 2016.
“Even though Yutu struck at the end of the year,” Congressman Sablan said, “the storm affected the overall number for 2018. Tourists stopped coming after the storm and this economic data reflects that negative impact.”
Sablan said he expected Yutu could have an even larger impact on the economic data for 2019. “Federal spending after Yutu helped to offset some of the losses from tourist dollars last year. It may be that the tens of millions of federal dollars spent this year in the recovery effort will also offset to some extent the continuing decline in tourism and other economic activity caused by the storm.”
Moyer will meet with Sablan for a detailed briefing on the data. The congressman was on Rota to meet the new U.S. postmaster and constituents and to deliver books to Rota Junior/Senior High School and Sinapalo Elementary.
“I am looking forward to getting the story behind the GDP headline number from Dr Moyer,” Kilili said. “The information that BEA produces for the Marianas and the other U.S. insular areas is a key tool for policymakers both in Washington and here at home.
“It also lets the public know whether our economy is headed in the right direction.”
Congress provides the money that makes production of the annual economic data possible.
Meanwhile, the estimates of gross domestic product for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands for 2018 show that real GDP — GDP adjusted to remove price changes —decreased 19.6 percent in 2018 after increasing 25.5 percent in 2017.
For comparison, real GDP for the United States (excluding the territories) increased 2.9 percent in 2018 after increasing 2.4 percent in 2017.
The decline in the CNMI economy primarily reflected decreases in exports of services and private fixed investment that were partly offset by growth in government spending.
Exports of services decreased 38.8 percent, due to a decrease in visitor spending, including on casino gambling. Revenues from casino gambling dropped over 50 percent. The number of visitors to the CNMI decreased 21.5 percent, reflecting the effects of Typhoon Yutu, which made landfall on Saipan and Tinian in October 2018.
Private fixed investment decreased 19.8 percent, reflecting a decline in business spending on construction and equipment. However, business spending on construction and equipment re mained at historically high levels, supported by continued development of the casino resort on Saipan and the start of post-typhoon repairs and reconstruction activity.
Partly offsetting the declines in exports of services and private fixed investment was growth in government spending, particularly by the federal government. Federal government spending more than doubled from the previous year, primarily due to recovery activities following Typhoon Yutu.
SOURCE: MARIANAS VARIETY/PACNEWS
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