Report finds negative impact of COVID-19 on the Pacific business community remained severe across 2020

The Pacific Business Monitor is a regular survey commissioned by the Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) to understand the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on the Pacific’s private sector and identifying key areas of support businesses need to recover.

The 2020 report collates all responses gathered across the first 9 surveys conducted between May and December last year, from all major industries across 16 Pacific countries.

The 2020 report was launched last week at the panel discussion ‘How are businesses in the Pacific really doing?’ with Griffith University, Australia. The 2020 report reveals that the pandemic remained ‘severe’ across 2020, with more than 90 per cent reporting a negative impact on their local economy and close to 90 per cent of businesses experiencing declines in revenue – largely due to international border closures and a subsequent lack of international tourism and cash flow. Many businesses in the Pacific rely wholly on revenue generated from international tourism and without a timeframe of when foreign guests will be allowed in, it is difficult for businesses to generate short and long-term plans.

PTI Australia Trade & Investment Commissioner, Caleb Jarvis, said the continued impact of closed international borders is placing immense pressure on Pacific business owners.

“The prolonged duration of the pandemic is taking a terrible toll on the business community in the Pacific. We are quickly coming up to the 12-month mark since the Pacific has been cut off from customers for one of its primary industries – international tourism. Despite this seemingly insurmountable challenge, the resilience shown by business leaders across the region must be commended. Over 75 per cent of businesses remain open and we must ensure it stays that way.”

The Pacific Business Monitor 2020 shows that confidence in business survival had been increasing throughout the year and many are adapting or looking to alternative avenues and initiatives to generate revenue. 50% of businesses started to diversify their offering from August 2020.

“Businesses are actively seeking initiatives to further support their business including improving financial position and improving and implementing online commerce capabilities to support the need to sell more online.

“While opening borders and allowing international tourists to visit the Pacific remains crucial for many businesses in the region, COVID-19 has a harsh reality check on the importance of diversification and the importance of online channels. The report has revealed that many businesses are looking to refresh how they do what they do. They have expressed that they are seeking information on business structuring and e-commerce. The report provides valuable information for partners working in the region to ensure that they are delivering programmes targeted to the needs of the Pacific private sector. At PTI Australia we used the results to inform our programs last year and will continue to do so this year.”


Photo supplied Caption: Caleb Jarvis, PTI Australia Trade & Investment Commissioner on the Griffith University panel