Pacific business confidence slumps to new low

A new survey has shown business confidence in the Pacific is still falling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and is now at its lowest level since May last year.

The Pacific Business Monitor survey for this month shows the confidence of the region’s businesses that they will survive COVID-19, has dropped by a huge 58 per cent.

Caleb Jarvis, Pacific Trade Invest Australia’s Trade and Investment Commissioner says the survey results show that the global community should be doing everything possible to help restore international travel to the region.

“The prolonged duration of the pandemic is taking a terrible toll on the business community in the Pacific,” Mr Jarvis said.

“We have surpassed the 12-month mark since the Pacific has been cut off from customers for one of its primary industries – international tourism.

“This insurmountable challenge has been met by resilience and agility and the global community must do everything in its power to support and safely reopen borders as soon as possible.”

Since the Pacific Trade Invest group started surveying business confidence in the Pacific last May the percentage of respondents reporting confidence that their business would survive the COVID-19 crisis has ranged from 65 to 78 per cent.

This month’s survey includes responses gathered from 5 to 18 April 2021, from 175 businesses across the Pacific, including in Vanuatu.

According to the April survey, expectations of a return to pre-pandemic revenue in 2021 have slumped, with only 16 per cent of businesses now expecting a return this year, compared to 33 per cent of respondents in the March survey.

Temporary closure rates have risen again, with 26 per cent of respondents now shutting their doors until further notice – the highest percentage since August 2020.

In Vanuatu, the private sector representative, the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), is urging government action in two priority areas – the introduction of another Employment Stabilisation Package and the role out of the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to a survey done by the VCCI in December 2020, 46 per cent of businesses in Vanuatu have reported a fall in revenue since the start of the pandemic.

The VCCI has also reported that very small business such as handicraft, fruit, vegetable and kava vendors are particularly suffering from the impacts of COVID-19.

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