Closure puts pressure on business owners

Fiji’s foreign exchange data released yesterday (April 6, 2021) by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics (FBoS) revealed improvements in the country’s Balance of Payment situation towards the end of last year compared to the same period in 2019. Picture: SUPPLIED

THE continued impact of closed international borders in the heavily international tourism dependent country is placing immense pressure on business owners in Fiji and the Pacific.

Pacific Trade Invest (Australia) trade and investment commissioner Caleb Jarvis cited their recent Fiji focused report which found that in 2020 businesses in Fiji were more challenged by poor cashflow, local lockdowns, limited access to finance and the increasing cost of products/raw materials compared with businesses in the Pacific region.

Mr Jarvis said: “Fiji’s economy is linked in many ways to international tourism, not only in Fiji tourism services and sales but in airport taxes and acting as a major global stopover destination.

Close to half of the country’s GDP hinges on foreign tourists arriving by air. For over a year Fiji has been cut off from that revenue stream. The resilience shown by business leaders and local consumers in Fiji must be commended and support from the international community bolstered.

“Our report shows that at the end of 2020, 72 per cent of Fijian businesses were confident in survival. It’s critical that we work together providing tangible support to increase business confidence for Fiji’s private sector.”

The report – Pacific Business Monitor Fiji Focus 2020 Report – found that COVID-19 had a significant impact on the normal operation of businesses in Fiji, especially from July to October 2020.

It also stated that positively most responding businesses remained operational or partly operational by the end of 2020, which was a much higher proportion when compared with responses from the Pacific Islands overall.

Pacific Islands Forum secretary-general Dame Meg Taylor said the Business Monitor survey series was integral to advocate regionally and communicate the realities of Pacific businesses in the wake of COVID-19.

“The consistent and thorough research provided by Pacific Trade Invest strongly reinforces the anecdotal feedback we are receiving in the Pacific during these unprecedented times.

“These statistics allow the forum to present quantitative data to our partners and members when advocating for stronger support for the Pacific private sector.

“The country focused reports are invaluable as they highlight the national nuances of the crisis in the Pacific. They support us in charting informed and individual paths to economic recovery for each country that makes up our vibrant Blue Pacific,” she said.

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