Pacific survey says islands hard hit; border openings key to recovery

14 Oct 2020

According to a recent survey, businesses that are based in Pacific island region have been impacted far more severely by the COVID-19 pandemic than Australian-owned businesses that also have operations in the Pacific.

The survey – conducted in August by Austrade and Pacific Trade Invest – says businesses based in Pacific islands have suffered a greater decline in revenue, as compared to Australia-based businesses, and they will take longer to recover.

Nearly two in three island-based businesses, or 71 per cent reported a significant decline in revenue, compared to 51 per cent of businesses that are based in Australia.

For both groups, the greatest challenges resulting from the pandemic involve unpredictability, and restrictions on international and domestic travel.

However, Pacific Islands businesses say some challenges are becoming more acute. These include poor cash flow, limited access to finance, labour issues and increasing costs.

Global and regional forecasts indicate that the COVID-19 economic crisis in the Pacific is expected to be deeper and longer than first thought; and that recovery will be slower.

According to survey results, the key to recovery in the Pacific Islands is the re-opening of international borders. This will permit skilled workers and tourists to travel, and help to restore supply chains.

The survey indicates that businesses are ready to travel again when borders re-open. Approximately 97 per cent of Australian businesses that are active in the Pacific report that they would travel to the Pacific for work purposes if borders were open.

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