Pacific nations could create 500,000 jobs and lift average incomes by more than 40 per cent within 25 years by targeting several key industries, a World Bank report has found.

The report, to be launched at the Pacific Islands Forum in the Samoan capital Apia on Thursday, has been three years in the making.

It suggests economic growth across many Pacific nations has been sluggish in the past 20 years, particularly in comparison with other developing nations.

The World Bank is urging policy reform and targeted investment in tourism, labour mobility, sustainable fisheries and communications technology to turn the tide by 2040.


It estimates more than 100,000 jobs could be created in tourism alone by tapping into China's growing middle class, retirees and cruise ship and high-end resort markets.

The World Bank forecasts fisheries could net an extra $US300 million ($416.6m) by 2040 without an increase in catch levels or threats to the sustainability of fish stocks.

It would require participation by other major resource owners including Indonesia and the Philippines, and strict compliance with catch limits including in the high seas.

So too would it demand investments in skills, capacity and food security maintenance, along with the inclusion of coastal communities.

The World Bank urges regional leaders to give Pacific people better access to work in Australia, New Zealand and new markets including Canada and Korea.

It recognises deep-sea mining as a blossoming sector, but urges Pacific leaders to exercise caution, given the many unknowns and environmental risks associated.

Improving internet access mobile phone coverage could also translate to higher wages and work by spreading knowledge and bridging productivity gaps, the report finds.

The World Bank has highlighted climate change, natural disasters and non- communicable diseases as key threats facing the Pacific.


It suggests the economic costs of each are already high and could increase further over time unless effective measures are adopted.

The report finds countries must choose very carefully which reforms to pursue and investments to make, given their financial constraints.

Education must be geared towards harnessing economic opportunity, and regional co-operation is crucial to generating a pay-off.

Strong regulations and processes will be needed to protect sustainability and the health of the environment, the World Bank insists.