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Exports To Fiji Down, Confidence Improving

Media release 16 November 2000


EXPORTS TO FIJI DOWN,
BUT BUSINESS CONFIDENCE IMPROVING

Business confidence in Fiji is already showing signs of improvement despite a 20 percent drop in New Zealand exports for the three months to September.

New Zealand export earnings to Fiji totalled $46.6 million for the September quarter - compared to $59.4 million for the 1999 September quarter. Total exports for the year ended September 2000 were worth over $189 million.

Trade New Zealand’s Market Services Manager for Australia, the Pacific and South Africa, David Robertson, says the drop in foreign exchange earnings to Fiji was less than expected as a result of the coup.

The 1988 coup had seen a dramatic drop of 30 percent in export earnings.

Robertson says the tourism industry is already picking up thanks to a
multi-million dollar promotion by resort operators and the Government to woo Australians and New Zealand holidaymakers.

Food and beverage sales for the quarter fell 24 percent to $13 million - with a 29 percent drop in lamb sales in favour of cheaper mutton and hogget.

Sales of manufactured products dropped 15 percent to $23 million - with nearly a 30 percent drop in industrial and electrical machinery sales largely due to a freeze on major infrastructure projects.
Robertson says some of the projects halted between June and August now appear to be back on track and there were plans for further investment.

“It’s all positive signs. The manufactured products fall off will start to pick up as private and public sectors start getting back to normal. Both the public and private sectors and the Government have taken quite a number of steps to get the economy moving up,” he says.

“The currency still remains strong, the inflation rate is lower than ours, they have six months export income in their offshore bank accounts and while GDP is down a lot of other economic indicators are positive.”

Trade New Zealand’s Suva-based trade commissioner, Jo McEvoy, says things are picking up.

“With the infrastructure projects happening there might be some spin-offs for New Zealand engineering and construction companies. Opportunities are also emerging for New Zealand consultants active in the privatisation field.”

McEvoy says it is worthwhile for New Zealand companies to return to Fiji to re-establish links with former clients. But adds there is a wariness about making any large scale investment in the Fijian market until a clearer picture emerges of the country’s political future.


For further information:

David Robertson
Market Services Manager for Australia, Pacific Islands and South Africa
Trade New Zealand
Ph: 04 496 6414
Email: david.roberston@tradenz.govt.nz

Distributed by Sara Darby, Trade New Zealand, Communications,
Ph: 04 496 6418

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