22 September 2021
- New Zealand: The country is in various stages of lockdown owing to the COVID-19 Delta variant. Restrictions in Auckland are currently being eased. Flights to and from Australia are largely suspended. Austrade reports a high volume of trade enquiries in multiple sectors, including in the agriculture, food, beverages, health and advanced manufacturing sectors. The New Zealand economy remains strong on most indicators despite the absence of international tourism.
- Papua New Guinea: Infections are starting to stabilize as the vaccine roll out continues. Latest reports state 18,890 COVID-19 cases and 209 deaths. The availability of oxygen in the provinces is problematic. Most resource-based companies have resumed work, including those dependent on a fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) workforce. The Government’s ‘Take Back PNG’ campaign is adding to investment uncertainty.
- Fiji: The economy will see a further contraction this year. The current outbreak is delaying a reopening of borders and delaying economic recovery. Latest reports state 12,981Covid cases and 566 deaths. The Government’s pandemic priority is vaccination. So far, 66% of Fijians have received one vaccine dose. The Government’s target is an 80% fully-vaccinated rate by October.
- Pacific: Economic stress continues to grow across the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Central Bank Governors from Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste report ‘elevated’ levels of risk. They have lowered growth projections, citing monetary and fiscal fragility.
- Pacific: The PACER Plus Agreement is now in force. Austrade is working with the Office of the Pacific (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), Pacific Trade Invest, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and various Pacific business chambers to develop a business-engagement strategy.
- Sea port logistics are causing heavy delays. This is impacting supply chains and imposing costs on business. The New Zealand flight cargo-subsidy program – Maintaining International Air Connectivity (MIAC) – has enabled over 6,000 flights in and out of New Zealand. It has carried over 120,000 tonnes of airfreight worth NZ$8 billion.
- Austrade’s New Zealand-Pacific September 2021 edition of Pacific News contains a regional round-up of infrastructure projects and other opportunities for Australian business.
- The closure of a South Island aluminium smelter has created an energy surplus. This has triggered expressions of interest in ‘green hydrogen’ production for potential export. Austrade is assisting with market and regulatory advice.
The Pacific region
- A substantial growth in sales continues across the Pacific. Austrade continues to assist with introductions, market connections and regulatory advice in several markets. Exporters are advised to focus on Fiji in anticipation of limited border re-openings and the prospect of a return of tourism.
- All Pacific islands report close to zero occupancy rates in resorts and hotels (i.e., international tourism). The cruise industry is closed.
- The 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 owing to the pandemic has also exacerbated poverty and inequality amongst vulnerable groups with consequent impacts.
Craig Knowles. +64 (0) 21 2222 801