Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) Australia have published the findings of their most recent Pacific Islands Export Survey, a biennial report providing key insights into the activities and opinions of exporters across the region.

Now in its eighth year, the Pacific Islands Export Survey 2022 comes at a critical time, providing a unique lens to understand the acute and far-reaching impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the region over the last two years.

Capturing longitudinal data across the sixteen Pacific Islands Forum Pacific Member countries, 2022 also saw the survey expand to include data on ecommerce, recognising the growing digital economy and working to understand the growing impact this has had on exporters in the Pacific.

Dr Tess Newton Cain, Pacific Analyst and Project Lead at Griffith Asia Institute's Pacific Hub, said the survey provides a wealth of information and insights into the economic temperature of our region.

“The PTI Pacific Islands Export Survey comes at a pivotal moment as many countries of the Pacific shift from keeping COVID-19 out, to managing the impacts of living with it in their midst. It adds to a valuable longitudinal dataset that can inform nuanced and sophisticated analysis and policy formulation.”

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.

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 per cent stating that cost of export was their main barrier and 48 per cent stating the same for export logistics. This increased from 46 percent and 38 percent in 2020, respectively.

Newton Cain says that while these challenges are expected to ease in the future, they will still be of immense significance in the short term, with exporters increasingly calling for support in the form of financial grants as they navigate this turbulent period.

“When it comes to barriers to exporting, it is not surprising to see that the major challenges are around transport costs and logistical challenges. Whilst we can expect these pressures to ease over the medium term, they will continue to be of major significance in the next little while until international freight systems begin to normalise.”

Other key findings of the Pacific Islands Export Survey 2022 include, just under three quarters of responding Pacific exporters reporting being impacted by extreme weather patterns over the past year, exporters indicating intention to increase trade to new regions, and a significant increase in the proportion of revenue generated online by new exporters.

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.

“Promisingly, we can see that business confidence among Pacific Exporters has increased over the last two years despite the many challenging environmental and economic conditions at play. Despite over half of all businesses reporting a decline in export orders over the past 12 months, Pacific exporters are confident that export decline has peaked.

"The future holds much promise, with 66 per cent of mature exporters and 69 per cent of new exporters anticipating an increase in revenue and export orders over the next year. In line with this positive outlook, it is immensely promising to see more than half of Pacific exporters expect to hire new employees over the next 12 months, a significant increase from years prior.

“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.

On Thursday 28 July 2022, PTI Australia and Griffith Asia Institute are hosting a panel discussion, drawing on the new data from the Pacific Islands Export Survey 2022. The upcoming ‘What is the future and power of trading with the Pacific’ hybrid event will take place both online and in person, and includes a panel discussion between industry experts on the realities, opportunities, and challenges of taking Pacific products and services global.

Source: PTI

Please visit the PTI Australia website to access the Pacific Islands Export Survey 2022 full report, highlights report, and registration information for the ‘What is the future and power of trading with the Pacific’ event.

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.