Promising future for Pacific exporters: PTI Australia

Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) Australia says despite half of the businesses responding to its export survey noting a decline in export orders over the past year, businesses are optimistic about the future.

The most recent Pacific Islands Export Survey, a biennial report provides key insights into the activities and opinions of exporters across the region and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected them.

2022 also saw the survey expand to include data on ecommerce, recognising the growing digital economy.

According to the survey, respondents are confident the future holds promise with two out of three businesses expecting an increase in export orders over the next 12 months.

According to the survey, despite over half of all responding businesses reporting a decline in export orders over the past 12 months, respondents are confident the future holds promise with two out of three businesses expecting an increase in export orders over the next 12 months.

PTI Australia says these confidence levels are highest in agriculture, where 75% of Pacific exporters expect orders to increase over the next 12 months. Tourism, one of the hardest hit industries, also expects a positive turnaround within the next 12 months. In line with this rising confidence, 54% of Pacific exporters expect to hire new employees over the next 12 months.

The report finds that the cost of export and challenging export logistics have increasingly become barriers to Pacific exporters selling their products or services to overseas customers, with 52% stating that cost of export was their main barrier and 48% stating the same for export logistics. This increased from 46% and 38% in 2020, respectively.

The survey reports that just under three quarters of responding Pacific exporters said they were impacted by extreme weather patterns over the past year, two-thirds of Pacific exporters said they planned to increase trade to new regions, mostly Australia (28%), and there was a significant increase in the proportion of revenue generated online (52%) by new exporters.

The study shows that the awareness of trade agreements remains “relatively steady” with most Pacific exporters (56%) illustrating that they know most, if not all, enforceable trade agreements such as the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA). PTI Australia says perceived benefits of these agreements have improved since 2020, especially in agriculture, manufacturing, and mature businesses.

PTI Australia’s Trade and Investment Commissioner, Caleb Jarvis, said that despite the many challenges, the survey also revealed the strong optimism Pacific exporters hold for the future.

“Following this survey, PTI Australia will continue to support exporters grow their businesses, by providing introductions across the Australian market, data, training, and technology, – focussing on making Pacific businesses more resilient to external shocks. It’s critical that solutions are found to key challenges such as access to affordable online payment solutions, cross-border, and cost-effective small parcel logistic services”, said Jarvis.