14 July 2021
New Zealand: Management of the trans-Tasman ‘bubble’ is maturing to manage the fast-evolving conditions in Australian states and territories. Currently, travel from NSW is ‘paused’. New Zealand now requires a negative pre-departure test for COVID-19. Conditions are available on the New Zealand Home Affairs safe travel zone site.
New Zealand: Enquiries about trade opportunities in agriculture, food and beverages, health and advanced manufacturing are all on the increase. Most economic indicators point to a strong recovery, despite the impact on international tourism.
Papua New Guinea (PNG): Infection rates are thought to be stabilising. Most resources-based companies have resumed work, and many FIFO employees have returned. The pandemic and associated border closures are still the biggest challenges facing companies, however. The Government’s “Take Back PNG” campaign is causing investment uncertainty (see below).
Fiji: The country remains in lockdown. The economy will see a further contraction this year and there will be a delay to a reopening of the border. The Government’s focus is on vaccination: 50% of Fijians have received one vaccine dose, and the Government hopes to have 80% of the population fully vaccinated by October. This should enable Fiji Airways to return to 25 per cent capacity.
The Pacific: Economic stresses continues to grow across the region. Central Bank governors from Pacific Island nations are lowering growth projections, and report that their monetary and fiscal positions remain fragile. The latest edition of Pacific News reports in detail on the current situation
New Zealand Government’s International Airfreight Capacity Scheme (IAFC) has
been extended to the end of October 2021. Meanwhile, the Maintaining
International Air Connectivity (MIAC) program has enabled over 6,000 flights in
and out of New Zealand carrying over 120,000 tonnes of airfreight worth NZ$8
Zealand continues to experience significant delays in international supply
chains. This is partly due to global disruptions caused by COVID−19. Structural
issues include a shortage of skilled labour at ports. Order to delivery
timeframes have increased from an average 90 days to 360 days for imported
Government has announced a range of measures to deal with housing affordability
and supply. Initiatives include a NZ$3.8 billion housing acceleration
infrastructure fund. They also include a range of tax and tax-offset changes to
dampen investment market and support first home buyers.
Papua New Guinea
defence spending in Papua New Guinea looks
set to create opportunities for Australian maritime and engineering companies. The Australian government has
signed a A$300m for the development of 7 ports. Austrade will help identify
opportunities for Australian sub-contractors and supply chain operators.
Government’s ‘Take Back PNG’ campaign
over the past two years has focused on five key resources projects:
o P’nyang (ExxonMobil),
o Papua LNG (Total),
o Pasca A (Twinza Oil),
o Porgera mine (Barrick Niugini)
o Wafi-Golpu mine (Newcrest).
The campaign wants a
greater share of returns/royalties to maximize revenues for the state. As a
result, the mining and resources sector has slowed considerably. Recent
comments by PM Marape that PNG is … “not in the business of scaring off foreign
investors” … is seen as a welcome shift in approach.
The Managing Director
of PNG Power, Flagon Bekker has outlined the state-owned utility’s plans to improve
the power supply in Papua New Guinea, including a massive new hydroelectric dam, called Ramu 2.
This huge investment project would take 6–7 years to complete.
Government’s national electrification project – which is supported by
Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the US – continues to provide opportunities
for Australian companies. This includes contributing to supply chain and
technical solution requirements. Austrade is working with multiple energy and
engineering companies to help various consortia to bid for work.
companies engaged in a A$10 billion road infrastructure program are seeking
partnerships with Australian roads companies. The geography in PNG is
challenging and will require new technologies and equipment. Long-term
maintenance programs are attached to the initial capital projects, providing
ongoing security. The project is financed by the Asian Development Bank.
The Asian Development
Bank (ADB) is set to finance a Greenfield 4G mobile telecommunications network
through Fiji’s Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH) subsidy, ATH International
Venture Pte. Limited (ATHIV). The new network is designed to enhance mobile, broadband
and internet services. According to ADB, Papua New Guinea is the Pacific’s
largest-and-least-developed telecommunications market, since only 11% of the
population have internet access.
The Pacific Islands
sources predict substantial growth in retail sales of food, grocery and
hardware across the Pacific. This includes:
Kiribati: 40% increase in food, grocery and hardware
Vanuatu: 115% increase in food, grocery and hardware
PNG: 30% increase in food and grocery
Nauru: 15% increase in food and grocery
New Caledonia: 45% increase in food and grocery
Other Pacific nations: Average increases of 39%
Pacific islands report close to zero occupancy rates in resorts/hotels. The Cruise
industry is also closed. Austrade is assisting with introductions and
regulatory advice in several markets.
PACER Plus trade agreement is liberalising trade among multiple Pacific
nations, including New Zealand, Australia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Niue,
Kiribati and Tonga and the Cook Islands. Opportunities for Australian businesses will increase.
Austrade is working with the Office of the Pacific in DFAT, Pacific Trade
Invest, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and various Pacific business chambers
to develop a business engagement strategy.
Reserve Bank of Fiji June Review reports continuing sluggishness in investment
and economic activity. Liquidity, inflation and foreign reserves remain stable.
The prolonged unemployment situation due to the pandemic has exacerbated
poverty and inequality amongst vulnerable groups. Continued fiscal support will
be crucial to ease the burden on households and firms.
and wholesalers in Fiji are having difficulty arranging freight. Since the
merger of Neptune and PDL into NPDL, shipping from Australia to some Pacific
nations goes via New Zealand. Currently freight can take 6–8 weeks via New
Zealand. This imperils supplies of perishable goods. Businesses who use
consolidators find that loads of one or two containers struggle to gain passage
because they are displaced by larger consignments. Importers are planning stock
for 3–5 months in advance, as airfreight is currently too costly.
may be on the way. Maersk has resumed
shipping to Fiji after a 7-year absence. Maersk is now operating two 2,500
twenty-foot container capacity vessels between Suva, Lautoka and Auckland,
Tauranga, Nelson, Timaru and Lyttleton in New Zealand. Fiji Ports Corporation
Ltd expects this new service to increase competition.
tourism sector continues to be severely impacted by the COVID-19-related
downturn. There are knock-on effects for unemployment and social dislocation
throughout the formal and informal economy. Tropical cyclones Yasa and Ana have
added flooding and storm damage to the strain: the Australian Government and
the ADF are rendering assistance.
NZ Pacific May 2021 edition of Pacific
News contains current opportunities in infrastructure and other
market information. Pacific News
offers a regional round-up of infrastructure and other opportunities for
Australian business and is distributed to over 600 businesses each month.
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