91% of Pacific Businesses affected by COVID-19

Pacific businesses are feeling the full impact of COVID-19 restrictions, with 91% reporting a decline in revenue.

Fiji has been particularly hard hit by the crisis (93% reported a significant decline in sales/revenue).

The results have been published in the PTI Pacific Business Monitor Report. The PTI Pacific Business Monitor will track the sentiment and performance of these businesses over the next six months surveying them every fortnight with the dual aim of providing governments, donors and stakeholders with up-to-minute data about how businesses across the region are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and providing the PTI network with information that will help guide their decisions about the best ways to support the private sector through our work.

The first survey of businesses from across 16 Pacific nations, found that businesses across multiple sectors have been hit hard by the pandemic in a variety of ways, particularly by the closing of international borders and travel restrictions. Just over a quarter of businesses that responded are fully operational (43% are partly operational, 29% have temporarily closed operations and 2% have permanently closed). With 62% of businesses saying they need financial support to assist their business moving forward.

Managing the financial and emotional pressure is taking a toll on Pacific business decision makers and owners; 59% reported the crisis has had/will have a negative impact on their mental health, with just under half reporting they are feeling worried most of the time (15% are worried all the time).

The Pacific remains optimistic with two thirds of businesses confident they will survive COVID-19, despite 48% of businesses not expecting their revenue to return to pre-COVID-19 levels until 2021 or later. There are also high levels of uncertainty, with 34% unsure when revenue will return to pre-COVID levels.

PTI Australia’s Trade & Investment Commissioner, Caleb Jarvis, said this research is very important for the region and the feedback from the Pacific’s private sector is encouraging.

“Through our day-to-day interactions with businesses in the Pacific, we hear the stories of how COVID-19 is impacting different kinds of businesses and the challenges they face. As a global PTI network we see the importance of quantifying the anecdotal feedback we are receiving to inform not only our work in the Pacific but also provide valuable longitudinal data to governments, donors and stakeholders.

“As we move forward, the private sector will be key in rebuilding Pacific economies. It’s a long road ahead and it is imperative that the impact of COVID-19 has on businesses in the Blue Pacific is monitored, and that the views of the smaller island states, where qualitative data isn’t readily available, is included.

“When we consider ways that businesses are buffering themselves from the effects of the pandemic, digital connectivity has perhaps never been more important. Twenty-two per cent of those surveyed reported they were doing more business online, and many businesses that had already moved to digital have found they were able to reposition themselves.”