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‘COVID-19 Wasn’t The Only Major Impact Exporters Suffered In The Global Impact’

Despite some huge hits to orders and revenues in the last year or so, Pacific exporters report that business confidence has stabilised and the future holds promise.
28 Jul 2022 17:46
‘COVID-19 Wasn’t The Only Major Impact  Exporters Suffered In The Global Impact’
Fantasha Lockington.

The manufacturing sector ranked higher than tourism and professional services in a regional survey that aimed to gauge Pacific exporters’ performance over the past two years. But that was owed to two things, Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association, said in response to a regional export survey over the past two years.

“They’re busy,” FHTA Chief Executive Officer Fantasha Lockington said.

“They are already impacted by shortage of staff, so filling out surveys is not high on their priority lists right now.”

She said the second reason behind the low performance rate from tourism was owed to people moving on from the sector.

“There are so many changes in the industry post COVID-19; contracts finished; new people; skilled migration.”

In its 2022 Pacific Islands Export Survey, Pacific Trade Invest reported a 27 per cent overall drop in responses from the tourism and professional sectors. The decline was recorded for the 12 months that preceded the survey.

 

Export Dynamics

The report, which focused on export dynamics, also saw an increase of 34 per cent, in responses from the manufacturing sector. In a foreword on the report, Tess Newton Cain – the adjunct Associate Professor Project Lead: Pacific Hub, of Griffith University, Sydney – said PTI Australia expanded the survey questions to include data on e-commerce.

“Our exporters have proven themselves to be resilient,” she said.

“We learn here of a range of methods that were used to adapt to the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses.”

“There have been significant negative impacts on employment, with 38 per cent of businesses, having reduced staff numbers and 23 per cent having reduced wages.”

 

“Ms Cain said 35 per cent of businesses diversified, while 21 per cent reported a start, or increase in online sales. COVID-19 was not the only major challenge Pacific exporters faced in the recent past,” Ms Cain said.

“The number of businesses affected by extreme weather events has increased from 65 per cent in 2020, to 72 per cent in 2022,” she said.

“While the types of weather events have changed since the last survey, climate change impacts are an ever-present challenge for exporters, as they are for everyone in the region.”

 

 Business Confidence Stabilize

Despite some huge hits to orders and revenues in the last year or so, Pacific exporters report that business confidence has stabilised and the future holds promise.

“We see that 66 per cent of exporters anticipate an increase in revenue and orders over the next year,” Ms Cain said.

These confidence levels were highest in agriculture, with participation in the survey reporting an overall 75 per cent.

“It may reflect the fact that this sector was least affected by the impacts of the pandemic,” Ms Cain said.

“The tourism sector is more cautious, with 63 per cent of respondents saying they expect a positive turnaround within 12 months.”

“It is evident that the gradual re-opening of borders is being seen as a sign that things are set to improve.”

 

Feedback: frederica.elbourne@fijisun.com.fj



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