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Despite severe COVID-19 impacts Vanuatu businesses remain optimistic
05:45 am GMT+12, 22/04/2021, Vanuatu

A recent report released by Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) found towards the end of 2020, businesses in Vanuatu were more likely to face challenges because of COVID-19, compared to the Pacific Islands overall.
 
The Pacific Business Monitor Vanuatu Focus 2020 Report aggregates results from business owners and leaders in Vanuatu across all the PTI Pacific Business Monitor surveys conducted in 2020. The Vanuatu Focus 2020 report provides insight into the impact COVID-19 on Vanuatu’s private sector last year in relation to businesses in the Pacific region.
 
The report found a greater proportion of businesses in Vanuatu faced significant declines in revenue compared to the rest of the Pacific Islands. Towards the end of 2020, businesses in Vanuatu were more likely to face more challenges compared to the Pacific Islands overall, particularly with the impact of local lockdown, border closure, labour issues, poor cashflow and access to freight.
 
Interestingly, despite challenging business conditions faced by Vanuatu decision-makers, levels of optimism and happiness are significantly higher than the Pacific Islands overall. Furthermore, compared to the rest of the Pacific Islands, businesses in Vanuatu are taking more actions to reduce cost and damage as they have been more severely impacted. 80% of businesses in Vanuatu reduced operational costs, compared to 66% across the Pacific region, 70% reduced working hours, compared to 52%, and 55% diversified their products and services, compared to 45%.
 
While high levels of confidence in business survival is low in Vanuatu, 80% of Vanuatu businesses are somewhat confident they will survive the COVID-19 crisis, compared to 54% in the Pacific region overall.  
 
PTI Australia’s Trade & Investment Commissioner, Caleb Jarvis, said until international borders open, the lost revenue from international tourism will continue to provide ongoing pressure to the economy.
 
“While Vanuatu has successfully kept the coronavirus largely at bay, the tourism-reliant economy has been crippled by international travel restrictions and closed borders. Cyclone Harold in April 2020 was the second strongest tropical cyclone to ever affect Vanuatu, destroying homes, businesses, and immobilising industries in one swoop. The resilience, agility and vigour shown by business leaders and communities in Vanuatu must be applauded. It’s still a long road ahead and we are working very closely with our on the ground partners and businesses in Vanuatu to understand how we can work together to navigate the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.”
 
“One of our initiatives to provide tangible relief to businesses in Vanuatu is the roll out of our Freight Assistance Package, designed to support the growth in demand for Vanuatu goods and services in international markets by offsetting some of the freight costs incurred by Vanuatu businesses in 2020. Three businesses based in Vanuatu and one business importing Vanuatu goods have received PTI Australia’s Freight Assistance Package,” he said.


SOURCE: PTI AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS


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