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Rente géo-stratégique et avantage comparatif des petites économies insulaires

Listed author(s):
  • Bernard Poirine

[eng] In this paper it is suggested that the high level of aid per capita received by small island countries and territories (population of less than 1 million), and their often very large trade deficit with the rest of the world, can only be explained by their international specialization on the export of geo-strategic services to large industrial aid donor countries. This is a non market public export, and as such does not appear in trade statistics. Small islands receive much more aid per capita than continental Third World countries, because they have a comparative advantage in this kind of «geo-strategic» exports. They can be, because of their privileged geographical location, actual or potential military bases, military testing centers (nuclear testing, missile testing), or political and cultural influence outposts in a remote region. In addition, the cost of securing their political allegiance is relatively small, so that per capita aid can be rather large and make a big difference to the islanders, at a relatively moderate total cost to the donor nation. Using a two countries, two commodities model of international trade, it is possible to show how both countries will gain from trade when the small island exports non market public geo- strategic services (possibly using local labor resources for this purpose), while importing from the donor country private goods, financed by aid or transfert payments. This is because in the donor country, there is a comparative advantage in the production of the private goods, while in the small island country, there is a comparative advantage in the export of non market public geo-strategic services : it pays for the donor countries to « import » such services, rather than, for example, allocate more resources domestically to the production of nuclear submarines or aircraft carriers to compensate for the lack of a good network of actual or potential military outposts around the world. The smaller the population of the island, the lower the cost to obtain this export, the higher the demand price the large industrial country will be willing to pay in aid per capita to the small island. This explains why there is an inverse relationship between population and aid per capita to small islands. An other conclusion of the model is that the international geo-strategic outlook will affect the amount the large industrial country is willing to pay for geo-strategic exports : the « collective indifference curve» of the donor nation between the public «military» geo-strategic good and the private «civil» good will move toward preference for the latter when, as is the case today, the threat of a conflict with other nations from trade between the island and the big industrial nation will get smaller, the negociation on the amount of aid will become more difficult, and in some cases the «trade» might cease altogether. [fre] L'article développe l'idée qu'on ne peut expliquer le niveau d'aide reçue par de nombreuses petites économies insulaires, et les déficits apparents de leurs échanges avec l'extérieur, que si l'on considère que leurs relations économico-politiques entrent dans le cadre de la théorie de la spécialisation internationale, élargie aux échanges marchands et non marchands. Leur avantage comparatif réside dans l'exportation de services géo-stratégiques et de rayonnement politique et culturel d'une grande puissance tuté- laire. Un modèle géométrique simple est utilisé, représentant les blocs de production d'un grand pays et d'une petite économie insulaire, dans l'espace constitué de deux biens : un bien marchand produit par les deux pays, et un service non marchand «géostratégique», ne présentant d'intérêt que pour le grand pays, pour lequel le petit pays insulaire dispose d'un avantage comparatif en raison de sa position géographique. Ce modèle explique pourquoi les petites îles reçoivent beaucoup plus d'aide par habitant, pourquoi elles montrent une tendance à l'intégration économique au sein d'un grand pays industriel et pourquoi il existe une relation inverse entre l'aide par habitant et la population des petites îles, indépendantes ou non. Cette conclusion renforce la viabilité économique, souvent contestée, des micro-états insulaires, du moins lorsqu'ils sont susceptibles de présenter un intérêt géo-stratégique.

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Article provided by Programme National Persée in its journal Revue française d'économie.

Volume (Year): 8 (1993)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 87-119

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Handle: RePEc:prs:rfreco:rfeco_0769-0479_1993_num_8_4_941
Note: DOI:10.3406/rfeco.1993.941
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