SECRETARY GENERAL DAME MEG TAYLOR
OPENING REMARKS FOR THE BLUE PACIFIC TALANOA SERIES – TRADE WEBINAR
(Check against delivery)
19 February 2021
Good morning and welcome to everyone joining us from across the Pacific region.
2020 was a truly unprecedented year, not only for the Pacific Region, but for our world economies as a whole. Despite the significant policy responses globally to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on our economies, the global economy is expected to shrink by at least 5.2% in 2020 – the greatest global contraction in 80 years.
Indeed, the pandemic has rapidly evolved from a health emergency to a global economic crisis.
So what are we seeing across the Pacific region?
A recent survey by the Pacific Trade and Investment Business Monitor found that 86% of Pacific businesses have registered significant hits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including revenue decline.
Discretionary consumption and service-related sectors such as leisure and hospitality, travel, logistics, and meetings and conferences have experienced sharp falls.
In the financial sector, banks and microfinance institutions are already affected by a liquidity crunch with a high potential for nonperforming loans in the coming month.
Tourism has taken the greatest hit in our region with many island economies facing drastic impacts in the tourism sector as a result of COVID-19 protection measures including the closure of borders and stringent immigration and quarantine protocols.
By far, small and informal businesses are the most vulnerable and have limited access to resources to mitigate the impacts of the crisis.
Todays conversation will focus on businesses who have taken this crisis as an opportunity to become more innovative in their approach to integrating new technologies to keep their business buoyant or introducing new connectivity options to maintain transport links with key trading partners.
With those few words, may I also add my own words of welcome to the panelists for today:
1.) Ambassador Roy Mickey Joy from the Government of Vanuatu
2.) Ms Adaline Ika, Acting General Manager for the Nauru Shipping Line;
3.) Mr Sam Saili, the CEO and CO-founder of SkyeEye Pacific from Samoa; and
4.) Ms Janet Lotawa, Co-founder and Executive Director of Rise Beyond the Reef here in Fiji.
I thank you.