Ali: Trade deficit narrows by 44pc

Shaheen Ali, the Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Tourism, Trade, and Transport. Picture: ABISHEK CHAND

Fiji’s balance of trade deficit has narrowed by 44 per cent despite the huge impact of COVID-19 on trade in the region, says Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport permanent secretary Shaheen Ali.

He made the comment at the groundbreaking ceremony of the $8.2 million Yard 3 upgrade at the Lautoka Wharf yesterday.

“According to UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) and Pacific Community report, for most countries in Asia and the Pacific, shipping remains a doorway to the global economy and for some, it is the key contributor to socio-economic development,” he said.

“The ongoing contraction of production and consumption due to the pandemic has led to a reduction in maritime trade, causing disruption in shipping demand and port traffic.

“And we can see this in the reflection of Fiji’s re-exports in 2020 by 38 per cent, as well as reduced imports by 34 per cent, compared with the same period in 2019.

“The silver lining is our balance of trade deficit has narrowed by 44 per cent.” Mr Ali said he hoped Fiji’s domestic exports continued to remain stable and increase.

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