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Disasters, coronavirus challenge for Pacific: Bank
4:50 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2020, Papua New Guinea

“Natural disasters and the coronavirus outbreak, present a challenging period for the Pacific countries and their governments to navigate in 2020,” said BSP Group CEO Robin Fleming last week when releasing BSP’s Economic & Market Insight December quarter.
 
Fleming said “whilst natural disasters and external economic shocks pose a constant threat to economic growth and fiscal sustainability for each Pacific nation, pleasingly these economies have positive growth outlooks in 2020”.
 
BSP General Manager Offshore Branches, Daniel Faunt, noted that “although some of the Pacific economies may soften slightly in 2020, notably Fiji and Solomon Islands, all the other countries will maintain relatively positive growth levels driven by tourism receipts, agriculture and fisheries exports”.
 
Faunt said in Fiji, which is BSP’s largest banking operation outside of PNG, “the economy will likely be impacted by a moderation in consumption and investment, although visitor arrivals continue to outperform registering its ninth consecutive year of growth”.
 
“In Solomon Islands, where BSP is the largest bank, growth in 2020 is expected to remain at 2.8 per cent which is broadly in line with 2019, despite the reduction in logging revenue,” he said.
 
“This presents a challenge for Solomon Islands government given it provides a substantial source of both government revenue and export receipts.”
 
For Vanuatu Faunt said: “Visitor arrivals increased by 14 per cent in 2019 and were a key driver in economic growth of 3.4 per cent. The tourism sector provided a cushion against the impacts of disruptions to agriculture caused by natural disasters.”
 
Tonga’s economy was impacted by Cyclone Gita, with reconstruction spending likely to drive economic growth up to 3.7 per cent in 2020.Faunt noted that: “Remittances continued to increase with a total of US$32.1m received in 2019, with these receipts continuing to provide a significant source of Foreign Exchange revenue for Tonga.”
 
He said Samoa’s economy was impacted late in 2019 by the measles epidemic.
 
And this will likely lead to constrained growth in 2020.
 
In the Cook Islands, economic growth moderated from 5.3 per cent in 2018 to 3.2 per cent in 2019.
“Tourism remains the most important sector in the country.
 
“And whilst arrivals have been consolidated at around 160,000 people annually, continued investment on key infrastructures will continue to assist in driving this sector,” Faunt said.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS


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