Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Plus Program (PHAMA Plus) and Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) Australia have signed an agreement aimed to assist Pacific exporters to enhance and maintain existing markets and help newbies establish themselves.
The agreement comes at a critical time as businesses in the Pacific deal with the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic that has closed down numerous businesses shut whilst others that remained experience depleted revenue-based.
In PTI’s latest report, released in May this year, at a time when some Pacific Island countries were just in the early days of the second wave of the pandemic that has since caused widespread devastation and deadly as has been the case in Fiji lately, 84 per cent of the businesses surveyed then had reported negative impacts.
Eighty-eight per cent (88%) of businesses experienced a decline in revenue (up from 85% last wave) as a result of the pandemic. According to businesses surveyed, 91% attributed the closure of international borders and poor cash flow among key challenges that they have had to deal with stemming from the pandemic. Eighty-nine (89%) per cent said not knowing how long the crisis will last is hurting their business.
Pacific-based exporters are not immune to the impacts of the pandemic and as such the partnership is timely in that it will help enhance their understanding of the Australian market and opportunities they can tap into for their products.
“Our collaboration with a key agency such as PTI Australia enhances our efforts to assist Pacific exporters in the agricultural sectors maintain and benefit from market opportunities in Australia that will contribute to economic growth and recovery from the global COVID-19 pandemic,” PHAMA Plus Team Leader Andrew Piper said.
The collaboration between the two organisations stems from mutual interests to strengthen the Pacific Islands’ private sector to better develop market opportunities for Pacific products in Australia. This includes supporting exporters, processors/manufacturers and producers to adopt quality and productivity-enhancing innovations for their exports to meet Australian market requirements.
“Since the onset of COVID-19 there has been a substantial return to farming in the Pacific, and as such demand for our services to source Australian buyers for Pacific root crop, coffee and kava exporters have also increased. As an agency of the Pacific Island Forum, we look forward to working closely with PHAMA Plus to support Pacific agricultural exporters create sustainable connections with Australian buyers and explore beneficial export opportunities. We are especially excited to collaboratively look into re-establishing kava exports from the region into Australia, in 2022 and beyond,” PTI Australia Trade Commissioner Caleb Jarvis said.
Photo: Phama Plus