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Pacific exporters optimistic for increasing sales

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

By Finau Fonua

Tongan, Fijian and Samoan exporters are confident that their sales will rise by over 50% over the next 12 months, according to the inaugural “Pacific Export Survey 2014”.

This is significantly higher than in the pevious 12 months where 30% experienced growth, the report stated.

The survey was conducted earlier this year by the Australian Government and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. The survey studied the opinions of 350 firms in various Pacific Islands of which 270 were exporters (excluding government agencies).

The survey revealed optimistism among Pacific exporters stating high export confidence and expectations of market growth. The survey stated “On average, respondents expected their sales to foreign markets to increase by more than 45% over the next 12 months, reflecting a substantial amount of optimism regarding export prospects.”

“In particular, exporters in Samoa, Fiji, and Tonga are the most confident with sales expected to rise by over 50% in all countries. They see export growth arising from both existing and new markets with the largest increases expected to come from Asia.”

"Access to finance" was reported as the main barrier to export. The lack of access to finance was contributed mostly to “collateral requirements” and “limited access to financial assistance.”

The survey explained: “Unsurprisingly, exporters focused on the particular assistance that they would like to have. Almost all of the most important factors revolve around marketing and distribution, including introduction to customers, agents and distributor, assistance in marketing products and better market research. Lower transport costs and export grants were two other important areas where exporters would like to see improvements.”

 The 2014 Pacific Islands Export Survey Report comes in the midst of “PACER Plus” negotiations, a proposed free trade agreement between Pacific Island countries (including Tonga) and Australia and New Zealand.