Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) Australia, an agency of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, has launched its 2020 Annual Report, highlighting more than A$20 million in export deals and a record nine investment deals facilitated in the region, despite the challenging environment.
In the Solomon Islands PTI Australia assisted 24 businesses through facilitating connections and capacity building, facilitating over A$659,339 in exports and A$17,120 in investment.
PTI Australia Trade and Investment Commissioner, Caleb Jarvis, noted the impacts of the pandemic on the Pacific and the organisation’s work to keep supporting the private sector through and beyond this crisis.
“In a year where COVID-19 closed international borders, interrupted trade routes and caused devastating financial effects on the people and economies of the Blue Pacific, we pivoted to support 582 businesses across 16 countries in 2020, almost one third of which were women-led businesses,” said Mr Jarvis.
“In the Solomons Islands we connected a kwila exporter to a Melbourne buyer, a canned tuna exporter with supermarket buyers in Tonga, Samoa and the Marshall Islands, and a cacao producer to an importer selling to bean-to-bar chocolate makers.”
He acknowledged his team’s agility and innovation, and collaboration with PTI partners as key to delivering these results.
“Within a week, we reconfigured our programs across trade, investment, tourism and labour mobility to virtual and hybrid formats, finding new ways to help businesses – like access to digital resources,” said Mr Jarvis.
“Collaborating with our global PTI network and 25 partners then allowed us to deliver $20.04 million in exports and $2.73m in investments regionally.
“We’ve fostered private sector sales to the Australian market and helped drive inter-regional trade, and initiatives like our Impact Support Program have provided businesses with the tools they need to adapt, maintain and expand their operations.”
Understanding the reality being faced by the Pacific’s private sector in 2020 has been key to supporting the region and making effective use of resources.
Substantiating the feedback received from extensive networks in the region, PTI Australia released its biennial Pacific Islands Export Survey and implemented the Pacific Business Monitor – a longitudinal survey series of the Pacific’s private sector to determine the ongoing effects of the pandemic.
“With our team unable to travel, the Pacific Business Monitor has ensured governments, donors, regional organisations, media and our partners have been informed with the latest quantifiable data about the pandemic’s impact on businesses,” said Mr Jarvis.
“The insights we’ve gathered cover everything from business confidence through to the bottom line, forms of support required, tactics being adopted to continue operating, and the effects on people’s mental health. The data allows us to advocate for the Pacific’s private sector at a regional level a well as inform the design and delivery of our own programs.”
Investing in and accelerating regional digital development and capacity building played a significant part in the agency’s work.
“The pandemic has confirmed that our digital approach is on the right track; we’ve seen the needs of those we work with change rapidly in this space and continue to extend and adapt our programs of work to help businesses bridge the digital divide,” said Mr Jarvis.
“In 2020, we delivered 23 online workshops to help Pacific businesses participate more in the digital economy, launched our Social Media for e-Business Scholarship, a first in the region, and refined our e-Commerce connector series.”
Looking ahead, Mr Jarvis reinforced the agency’s commitment to supporting Pacific businesses and the communities that rely on them.
“We’ll continue to work with our partners and businesses through trade and investment to support them chart a path out of the pandemic to economic recovery and beyond, as we pursue the Pacific Islands Forum’s vision of a bright and prosperous future for all people of the Pacific.”
Founded in 1979, PTI Australia is an agency of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. Funded by the Australian Government, it facilitates trade and investment into the Pacific Islands.
Source: Press Release