A slower recovery: Findings from the 15th Pacific Business Monitor

Photo: Cook Islands tourism

Just 8% of Pacific Islands businesses expect to return to pre-COVID revenue this year, with 55% expecting this recovery next year or even later according to the latest Pacific Trade Invest Pacific Business Monitor Survey.

153 businesses from across the region were surveyed between 5-18 July. The survey found 87% of businesses reported a decline in revenue due to COVID-19.

Most are confident their businesses will survive the pandemic; 70% in this survey. The extent and severity of COVID-19 on Pacific businesses has remained stable, with 84% reporting a negative impact, which is consistent with earlier surveys.

According to the data, the top three challenges facing businesses are:

  • Poor cashflow (86%)
  • Not knowing how long the crisis will last (86%)
  • Impact of closed international borders (84%).

The top four initiatives businesses say they require assistance with are:

  • Financial support (52%)
  • Access to new markets (37%)
  • Review financial position (31%)
  • Diversify business (29%)

While businesses have reported a series of measures to respond to the decline in business including: reducing operational costs, reducing working hours, diversifying their product and service offerings, reducing staff numbers, pivoting the business to sell and do more online,  reducing staff wages and requesting rent relief; they’ve also identified some barriers to actioning initiatives.

This includes “delays and cost of supplies from overseas suppliers for our manufacturing industry,” according to one manufacturer in New Caledonia, and “government’s lack of long-term vision and commitment toward the private sector during these difficult times,” according to an operator in Niue’s rental, hiring and real estate sector.

However the latest survey has also found that the toll on mental health amongst business decision-makers has decreased significantly, with 53% reporting a negative impact on their mental health, the lowest rate since tracking began.