There is a danger in examining the recent changes which have taken place in Pacific Asia of overemphasizing the role of manufacturing. Clearly the growth of export-oriented industrialization has been extremely important, particularly in some states, but in most countries export earnings are still overwhelmingly provided by the export of primary commodities (Figure 3.1). Southeast Asia alone produces 60 per cent of the world’s tin, and over 70 per cent of the world’s copra, palm oil and rubber.
Many of these export earnings derive from commercial agriculture, a term which covers the production of commodities ranging from basic foods, such as rice, to industrial raw materials such as rubber and copra. These products are grown in a variety of ways ranging from small-scale private production to collectives, large-scale multinationally owned plantations, or state enterprises. Whilst primary commodities of this nature are clearly important in national development, their differing modes of production give rise to a complex set of considerations which are best discussed in the context of overall rural and regional development strategies.
In contrast, the non-agricultural resource exploitation which forms the focus for part of this chapter, employs fewer people but does, of course, have equally important impacts on the economy, environment and on those involved. In essence, an examination of non-asricultural